Monday, March 29, 2010

This weeks backyard practice

Inspiration. Need some. Created a little course and am doing a bunch of different things to practice his week. Although one jump is good, I need to teach Fin to "go on" so am working on some difficult turns and then run as fast as I can and reward with ball toss for not looking at me and taking the line.

Friday, March 26, 2010


My heart is broken. We are saying goodbye to a dear friend today. Molly is my sisters 15 year old BC mix. Total love bug, she who farts alot, the girl with the big smile, auntie to many puppies, Fins good friend, and the love of my sisters life.

End of an era. Goodbye sweet Molly. We will miss you with all our hearts.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bathroom Remodel Update

The bathroom is coming along. Everyday, it gets better and better.

A stork, the threadle, and the pleasure zone

From the fantastic web universe, there have been some attempts to describe threadles:
Basically the handler pulls the dog through the gap instead of the dog following the natural path to take a jump. A traditional threadle is shown below. The threadle is between 6 and 7. As the dog commits to 6, she has three options. Go straight to the tunnel (Fin's preference), make a left turn to backside of 7, or come in between the jumps. The handler determines the dog path at take off.

Now, what does a stork and pleasure zone have to do with threadles?

Last night at class with Laura Derrett (as described quite well by Team Small Dog), the topic was threadles. I arrived, saw the set up, and knew. I hate threadles. I'm terrible at threadles, but after last night, I might have a new appreciation for the threadle. We ran a few courses and confused hysterics dominated our agility field.

We all were having trouble so as a class we started to come up with things to help us define what we were doing. The Stork Pose seemed to help everyone, but it got a little crazy after that.

First some definitions. These definitions are NOT the Derrett system definitions. These definitions are our classes interpretation and might get Laura in trouble if Greg ever reads don't tell Greg.

  • Pleasure zone = reinforcement zone = where you reward your dog
  • The stork pose = plant outside leg, point with inside arm, causing your inside leg to lift in anticipation of stepping backward.

The key to the threadle seems to be timing and footwork.

  • As dog commits to the jump prior to the threadle,
  • handler moves to position (next to jump standard prior to take off for next jump),
  • handler plants outside leg,
  • lifts inside leg in anticipation of step,
  • points with inside arm, and
  • keeps outside arm out of the picture causing the dog to drive toward the pleasure zone, er, the reinforcement zone.
  • Once dog is committed to driving to the "pleasure zone"
  • continue the step with your inside leg,
  • step around with your outside leg,
  • drop your inside arm,
  • bring up your outside arm, and
  • get to the next position on course.

Simple. Yeah right.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Not quite the rabbit hole, but at times I could have used some shrinking potion

Spent Saturday in the land of Derrett. Terms of the day:
  • Flick
  • Late
  • Early
  • Need more circle work
  • That is caused because you don't do proper Threadles
  • And the rarely heard "good"

The title of this seminar was "Top Handlers Seminar." I felt the title should be changed for me to "Mediocre Handler Aspiring to be Seminar."

Driving to this seminar, to be perfectly honest, I was regretting my decision to work Fin. I was scared. No denying. As much as I practice, as many titles that I may have, I was still scared as to what would happen. I've been having a reoccurring theme in my runs:

  • I expect her to take the line - she goes wide
  • I expect her to go wide - she comes into me
  • I expect her to come into me - she takes the line
  • But, her contacts are great!

I shouldn't have worried. I learned a great deal at this seminar. All of it will help me be a better handler. The good news is that Fin did all the stuff at the seminar that she does to me at trials (or rather, I handled like I do at trials and we were able to duplicate our errors). Two of the highlights for me were:

  • Fin and I really haven't done a good job in my foundation circle work which is causing Fin not to understand and go wide.
  • I have not properly recognized threadles on courses and the misuse of this cue is causing her to come into me on sharp shoulder turns rather than taking the jump in front of her (thus not taking a proper pinwheel).
The first half of the seminar started with a clear definition of each handling move. Following in the same vein of the lecture I attended on Friday evening. We started with the front cross.

When walking a course, first thing is to find all the theoretical front crosses. Once the FC's have been identified, then decide how you want to handle it. In the first exercise, it was pretty clear to everyone where the FC was located. The handlers challenge was to execute the FC at the proper place at the proper time.

When I did the first exercise, I heard, "Late." I wanted a mulligan, a redo, a forget you saw that, I'll try it again. I had every excuse in the book. I was nervous. Fin was nervous. Fin was too excited. I had anxiety. Fin had anxiety. Derrett said, "hmmm. Did you reward your dog for her start line stay. She did that very well." I dropped my head in shame and walked to my chair.
The FC exercise was pretty straight forward. Find the theoretical FC and perform it perfectly. The FC should be performed close to the 4th jump standard (the standard closest to #5) and the 3 foot pattern should move you towards jump 5. Mistakes:
  • Late FC (cause wide turns)
  • FC not in the proper place (caused S curve on dog path and slowed everything down)
  • Early FC (in some cases, pulled the dog off of 3, in others caused strange dog path).
For exercise two, we identified two FC and practiced doing both. Then switched it up and replaced our theoretical FC/FC with a serp. Everyone seemed to do well on these exercises. A pattern was seen that if you are late for your first, you'll be late for the second. I was "good" on my first and "late" on my second.

The serp truly was the easier move for me as there was less for me to do.

Exercise 4 and 5 used the same course but tested two very different handling maneuvers. We all agreed that the theoretical FC was between 4 and 5. First run we put a FC there, second a RC. FC must be performed at 5 when the dog is committed to 4. Not an easy feat, but we all tried real hard and there were even a few that got there early.

The RC was a struggle because you had to go into the pocket to get the dogs path down the line in order to execute your cross behind the dog. It was much easier for dogs that drove to 5. Dogs that were unsure and slower, handlers struggled. The cross behind the dog should be at commitment to 5.

The last exercises were all about threadles. My least favorite and of course my weakness. We did an exercise with two threadles and worked very hard on understanding the footwork. Tomorrow I will have a post "all about threadles."
For today, I will say that I was very proud of myself in this little 4 jump exercise. In the afternoon, during the full courses, I wasn't too happy but we worked really hard and had fun.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Anatomy of an Agility Handling Workshop

No matter how you handle, a consistent system is necessary for proper communication with your dog. This past weekend found me at one of my favorite venues, an agility handling workshop.
I am lucky enough to live in an area that not only has the weather to support it, but also has enough students to draw some top workshop trainers. This weekend was about the Derrett systems of handling, "advanced boxwork skills."
Some basic rules to live by:
  1. Keep your eyes (or eye in my case) on your dog.
  2. Use the arm and leg closest to your dog.
  3. Face the direction you want your dog to go.
We had a total of 10 different challenges and I learned alot about myself. I'm a flinger. I never really thought of myself as a flinger, but a flinger I am. I don't run with my arm up, nor do I run with my arm consistently in running position. I do both. I need to go to Flingers anonymous.
Timing is a huge issue. At one point Fin was doing a pinwheel to a serp (from me). She came off the pinwheel and I was thinking (here we go again) but I rewarded her anyway cause she came to the serp. Laura stopped me and said she was really glad I rewarded her because I brought my serp arm up early which resulted in her coming off the refusal line of the jump straight to me (in this case I was wrong and Fin was correct).

I'm going to go back and watch some of the videos from trials and see whether some of those "go around jumps" are "handling" rather than her being a brat.

Fin had a great time. I had a great time. Nothing better than hanging out on a beautiful day with your dog and best friends.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Photos of the Project

We started the remodel about 2 weeks ago. The first day the entire room was gutted. It was spectacular. My husband said, "Wow Vici, this is going fast." I said, "You must realize that the first day there will be a dramatic change, then you will look everyday and say, goodness, haven't you done anything today?" Such is the nature of the beast of remodel.

The before. Picture a room about 8x12. Door opens and you see a dark narrow room. Don'tcha just love the little lace window curtain - was there when I bought the house and I never took it down. It's coming down NOW baby!
The idea is to take the tub out, move the plumbing to the outside wall (lots of insulation). This will allow us to remove the wall between the new shower and toilet allowing light. Also take out the large vanity and replace with a smaller free standing arts n crafts style sink vanity providing the feeling of more space.
Begin the tear out. Find major water damage. Delay the project nearly 5 days to fix damage (extended into another room). Have to rent a jack to hold the 2nd floor up while rebuilding two walls. Fun stuff if you have the stomach for looking at the insides of your house.
Found a pepsi can from the 70's in the wall. Found one outside wall was not insulated (???). Found electrical wires incorrectly wired to a vanity light. I am continually amazed at how badly this house was originally built. Did they not have house inspectors in the late 70's?
Walls are going up. Floor is going down. Ceiling fan going in. I am giggling with the delight of all the newness.
Here is one of the helpers. Very helpful. Comes in to inspect and give opinions. He is of the opinion that we don't need a shower that can also double as a dog washing area.
Today the plan is to add wall texture and build the shower. It is starting to get exciting. At this point, there is nothing else to find wrong. It is now just a matter of building and getting it done.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My Subject For Today is...

...Blogger isn't work'in to good.

I've got this great post on my remodel. Doing a bathroom. Friend is here, acting like a contractor, working his buns off, not charging me near enough, tearing it out, and rebuilding. I've got some good pictures to show before and during. Once it is done will to an after.

But alas, can't post photos. Blogger is erring out.

I'm at a loss. I guess I'll have to use words.

I had a 1970's style bathroom with linoleum flooring and solid service plastic counters. A wall separated the bath (held plumbing) and toilet and made the bathroom dark. It is a small space. Totally functional. Just wanted to clean it up, get rid of the tub, move the plumbing so we could take out the wall. I wanted a new smaller cabinet to make the space feel larger.

Long story short. Every step of the way we have encountered issues. Water damage, mouse damage, bad construction. What should have taken 3 weeks will probably take more like 4-5. At this point all of the "bad" things that could go wrong have been fixed! Yippiiee. Now it is just the "construction" part.

Pictures will be forthcoming as soon as the blogsters fix it.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Dixon in the Winter

It is winter right? This weekend found us stripping off our layers and mostly running in our T'Shirts. I felt like we needed stripper music all weekend as woman of all ages (and a few guys) kept tak'n it off.

I ran total of 8 runs and Q'd once. Fin's first time in Excellent Jumpers. In some ways it was a gift by the judge as she stopped at the last jump because I got behind. But I'll take it!

The jumpers run on Saturday was a series of loops then turns back on themselves. I was late with my FC before the weaves, but I felt that after the weaves we had a nice groove going. The ending I had to wait for her as she went wide and found myself behind a jump because her line would have taken her past the final jump (something else to work on :) ). It was fun to run and she looks like she is having a blast.

On the standard the same day. I called real hard after the collapsed tunnel (thinking was was going wide), instead she came right to my side and past the jump. Otherwise a fun and exciting run.

All in all a fun weekend. I wish Sunday I had more success, but it was not meant to be.

Friday, March 5, 2010


It's been an interesting week. Not great in the weight loss area. I have actually slipped backwards.

Goal this week: I am walking every day, weights 2 times, and eating fish/chicken and veggies rather than sandwiches for meals. Tuna is my friend and I miss it.

Today I set up the sequence of jumps we had at class on Monday. Fin and I worked it and "surprise!" Fin took the same off course she took in class. We were able to work through it and I couldn't get her to make the mistake again during our session. "SUCCESS!"

Headed to an AKC this weekend. Looking forward to seeing how my circle work and jump work is paying off in the exciting venue of a trial. A report will be given on Monday.

Monday, March 1, 2010

I'm MAD!!!!

Had a fun weekend in southern California. Rained pretty hard on Sat, but Friday and Sunday were beautiful
The little red one is Fireball. He is the new addition to my friends agility family. He is partly mine cause I am the auntie. I get to babysit. Fireball got to play with his sister Smart. I got puppy therapy. Just so much fun. I spent a good amount of time just hanging out in the canopy watching Fireball play with Smart and his brother Motion.
Fin got a couple titles. She is now HiMarks Holy Mackerel! MAD, RM, OA, OAJ. I am really thrilled to be Fin's mom and handler. We don't always Q, but every run is an exciting ride.
She is simply fun and there is no better therapy than just getting out there and running with my dogs.
No pics of Tazzie, but he also had a great weekend. He was so happy the entire time and ran about as fast as I've ever seen him run.
A nice end to a week that was difficult to say the least.