Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Back to Basics Tues

After a wonderful Thanksgiving meal with my family, I left Morgan Hill for a 5.5 hour drive to LA to attend the Happy Dog USDAA.  I made it in time for the Steeplechase and ran Fin.  "Q!"  It wasn't pretty.  I was stiff from the long drive, and Fin was wild from sleeping in her crate.  I was thrilled we could sorta keep it together and Fin was a wonder finding the correct obstacle even though I wasn't always in the correct position.

Sat. found us back at the field, somewhat tired from lack of sleep, but determined.

I must now say...the Gamble is not my strength. I'm all about the Snooker...not the gamble.  Certainly I have work to do in this area.  Neither Tazz nor Fin got the gamble, but it was fun running.  I love to make up my own course.

Standard was a brilliant run and Fin was amazing.  Tough tunnel/dogwalk discrimination was nothing for her.  Tazz had a good time, but missed a contact.

I decided to drive home after GP.  I was tired.  Fin had run 3 runs and GP would be her 4th.  My own bed was calling to me.  We tried, but an off course resulted in a fun run but no banana.

This week I"m working on the basics in the back yard.  I'll be setting up grids today for grid work...then changing to boxwork.  Next week I'm going to work on discrimination exercises as well as the Gamble.  

This weekend UKI!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Very Happy Thanksgiving Celebration

The table is set and ready for guests to arrive.  A small Thanksgiving celebration this year.  We really missed having all our friends and family that usually join us.  We still laughed, enjoyed the food, and were grateful we were together, yet sad that more could not join us.
 The prerequisite Pumpkin Pie.  I used the recipe that I got from the cooking class but added a few embellishments of my own.  The leaves were my idea and turned out pretty nice.
 Lots of cooking.  Got the olive oil in the background along with the slap chop.  The world is a better place with my slap chop.  I believe this volunteer (hey come over here and stir this) is stirring the fresh cranberries into submission.
 Too many cooks spoil the pot?  Not in my kitchen.  The more the merrier.
 Out of the oven, the bird was well roasted.  The outside toasted skin hid moist and juicy meat inside.
 Putting all the food on the table.  The first course was a squash soup with a dollop of cider sour cream.
 No talking...all eating.
 After eating, some dozing.
 Also some begging.  Then, what do you do after a successful Thanksgiving day celebration?
Why drive a long way and attend a dog show.  All I can say is "Steeplechase Q!!!"

Monday, November 22, 2010

Dream sequence.

I'm dreaming up agility sequences now.  Last night I had a dream.  I was walking a very weird course (in the dream we were saying...this is fun and challenging).  I can't remember all, but the dotted line was a fence (white) that we had to run around.  6/7/8/9 were impossibly close.  In the dream all the big dog people were saying, "This course was designed by a small dog judge."  For some reason, nobody thought it was weird that the judge would build a course with a fence in it, nor that they'd put jumps 2 feet away from each other.

I walked the course over and over.  Then thought I had it and sat down.  Later, they were still walking so I ran out there to walk one last time and I was glad I did because it seemed the course was totally different.

I don't recall the entire course, but I do recall the swing around the fence into the weaves out to the jump and then back.  I also watched handlers running their dogs and most crashed and burned in that little tight sequence.  I dont' recall if I ran it.  I wanted to.  I imagined doing it correctly...but I'm not sure I got the chance.

In other news of the day, Kel and I got an xbox for Christmas.  We set it up last night so it would be ready for thanksgiving.  My arms are sore from boxing.  I think I boxed too much.  That Kinect is pretty darn cool.  no more sitting on the fanny playing games.  Now it's it all about standing, jumping, moving...most excellent.

Any suggestions for fun games would be most appreciated.

It is surprizing to me that the dream has stayed with me all morning.  I've been in work conference calls since 7am and there it is.  Still on my mind. I wish I had video to show...but alas...no video in the dream world.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Our First Trial Back Since the Incident with the Broken Toe

I have this weird personality trait.  I'm ever hopeful, yet, have low confidence at times.  Looking back at this weekend, I can see that I was silly to worry.  It is about having fun...and fun was had.

I took both Tazz and Fin.  I didn't expect much for many reasons:
  • loss of fitness on my part
  • out of practice trialing
  • worry about injury
  • etc.
I will say that we had moments of glorious symmetry.  Not many Q's, but wowza, we had some great runs.

Tazzi was a star:  Six runs, 4 Q's!  He really tried hard and it showed.  He is rock'n the performance 12" with his buddies.
Fin was a star:  Snooker Super Q!...well ok those 12 inchers kicked our butt, but we got first place in 16"!  All her other runs were close, close, close! 

The video above is her jumpers run from Sunday.  Even though I excelled when I should have decelled/serped causing Fin to fly by the 18th jump, the rest of the run is mighty pretty and will worth sharing.

I'm not saying that all runs were perfect examples of a working partnership, but I will say that we had moments of brilliance followed by moments of disconnect. 

But, it will only get better from here (that's my hopeful side coming out).

Let's end with a little Tazzie:

Monday, November 8, 2010

Three Day Aggression Seminar

Seems to be my month for seminars.  This past weekend found me in Novato, California at the Marine Humane Society.  I attended a 3 day lecture on Aggression.  The presenter was John Rogerson from the UK.

Imagine sitting in a small theater. 
  • Ascending seats with little tables attached (like grammar school). 
  • 150+ women, about 5 men
  • one presenter (and his wife who assisted throughout)
  • participants were shelter workers, dog trainers, people with aggressive dogs....about what you'd expect
I spent my $$ and gave up my time to learn something that might be valuable in the future.  What I came away with was a hunger to learn more and a deeper understanding of why the relationship I have with my dog is of utmost importance and an eagerness to work on that relationship.

The seminar, frustrating at times, was not boring.  Day one, seminar starts at 9am.  John starts talking at 8:45.  He continued talking until 12:15 and then said we'd break for lunch.  He was back in the theater at 12:45 talking again (some people hadn't even gotten to the food yet).  Seminar ends at 4, he stopped talking at 4:30.  John has something to say and wants to get as much in as possible.  No breaks.  Does the man get tired?

John's style is to communicate with stories.  I have to say the time flew by.  I was so surprised at how quickly time passed and by day three started to feel the same way John did - we just didn't have enough time to talk about everything.

There was no video or demo.  I believe the video would have helped me understand some of his techniques, but I can see that it would have slowed the flow of information.

Some highlights (all of this is his opinion and he is quick to note that not all agree with him and it is up to us to do our research to find what works best for us...this is his experience and not everyone will agree):
  • Building the relationship you have with your dog is the most important thing.  This must be done on a one on one basis and the dog must learn to love and live with humans.  (E.g., getting a dog to play with your other dog is not building a relationship with your dog).
  • The dog MUST learn to play with toys.  This is part of the relationship building and is vital. 
  • Using emotion to train your dog is vital.  Balance is the key.  In moving to food (clicker) we have moved away from using emotion.  Emotion is an important tool in your tool box.
  • Cause no harm.  There are ways to do things without causing harm.  He uses martingales or buckle collars, food in some circumstances (surprise!), an element of fun, however, a seriousness about safety is utmost.
Johns style is to have a good time.  He uses humor and surprise to keep the audience waiting for the next tidbit of information.  He doesn't always give the answers right away.  He is trying to get us to think.  On his thinking, well, he tends to looks at the solution rather than the problem.  (e.g., problem, my dog is pulling on the leash and lunging at dogs...solution: teach your dog to walk on the leash nicely).  He admits his mistakes but keeps trying.

For those of us used to an outline, course notes, handouts, and schedule, John's style could be confusing and frustrating.  I have to admit, I'm one that falls into the box of I want to know what to expect when.  I expected to talk about a subject, finish the subject, and then move on.  Every time John said, "Oh, yes, well, I'll talk about that tomorrow," I would want to yell, "FINISH THE TOPIC WILL YOU!!"  But by the end of the three days, I was floating along the spiderweb of information like a pro.

Overall I am incredibly happy that I attended the seminar. John has given me the tools of discovery and exploration.  He has presented a good case for looking at the solutions, rather than the problems.

Monday, November 1, 2010

3 Days, 24 hours, six sessions, 11 working teams, Hawaiians, Koreans, and puppy crack

Fin and Vici went on an adventure.  We attended the powerpaws winter 3 day camp.  Six rings, Six fabulous presenters, six essentials topics, and a total of 64 campers.  Overall, the camp was extremely well run.  We were put in groups based on our application and the groups moved from ring to ring visiting every presenter over the weekend.  

Fin had her own little RV.  Since we had to move six times during the weekend, I tried to pack light (I failed).  Laura loaned me her fabulous wheels and it made it really easy to be mobile.  Fin learned right away where her "space" was and although her space moved from place to place, it helped make her feel secure. 
 Having the mobile shade/rain protection really helped.  Donna brought everyone in my group "puppy crack."  It was a liver based dog treat that helped all the dogs be a little bit more motivated by the end of the weekend.  Fin was especially motivated by the puppy crack.  So motivated she nearly took off a couple fingers in her enthusiasm.

JJ was one of the little 12" shelties in my group.  JJ is pretty special and came all the way from Hawaii.   JJ was not layed back with Hawaiian attitude.  JJ was extremely competitive and Les had to really run to keep up.
 I was amazed at how much we got done.  I have so many notes, it will take a while to document everything.  I have so much to work on, but also felt that we did really well.
A tired dog, is a good dog.  The best news is that Fin held up throughout the entire 3 days.  We worked HARD!  It was not much sitting around.  It was, walk a drill, run the drill, analyze, walk another drill, run another drill, analyze.  Fun, fun, fun!