Monday, July 30, 2012

A little bit of magic...

Three of the five runs we Q'd in.  Started out I was thinking Fin didn't feel well.  She showed me.


Grand Prix (the comentary in the background is fab...the scream at the end...well prepare yourself)


Friday, July 27, 2012

A short Road Trip

On the road again!  Headed to Camarillo.  Trial site sounds really nice and weather should be around 70 degrees both days.

Little "O" has invited her friend Piggie Smalls for the weekend and this is their first time in a hotel at night.  I imagine that there will be a lot of wrestling in their future. 

Work this morning and then we are off!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Searching for Answers

Whenever I come upon a training dilemma, I go searching for answers.  I review notes of seminars I've been to, read Clean Run Magazine for topics related to my problem, see what videos I might borrow from my local agility organizations, and ask friends who I believe know more than I do.

I often spend money on my problem.  Just recently I purchased a video to see "is there anything new" on this topic.  Yes he had a different take, but really it was the same information presented in a slightly different way. There was some very good information in this video.  I took notes and will actually watch it again.  I'm not disappointed in the video, I am sad that it didn't give me something new for my problem, but happy that I learned a few new things to try.  I was very disappointed that the "expert" did not use a young dog with problems, just showed the "final result."  I want to take my dog there and have him try his techniques...not sure that would make the final cut in the video.  

Searching for answers often leads me back home.  I actually sometimes know the answer and my search was for an easy fix rather than the logical answer of "it takes time and energy".  I need to ask myself before I go on these searches, "what advice would I give to someone with this problem."  Often I will find the answer right there.

There are tons of people that will give me advice.  Advice that has worked for them.  Just go to any agility trial and ask a question.  Advice will fall from the sky.

It is up to me to decide, "Is this advice right for me and my dog."

In the end, I'm not going to find a simple solution to, "How in the heck do I get my dog to tug when I want her to tug."  The solution is everyday work on it.  Everyday make tugging with me the most amazing thing evah!  Make tug the thing she wants to do more than tennis balls?  Why yes Vici...go do that.

Wed Night Practice

Had some fun last night.  These exercises are set up for novice handlers learning to use their body to cue direction.

Key is where the handler places the reward.  Even these smaller drills require the handler to break it up and reward.

Fun and laughter had by all.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Rolling along...and oh, wild Turkey's

Off for a late walk last night with Fin and Olive.  Tried a trail that had been closed for a while and it showed.  Less trail like then I prefer, but we were blazing so no matter.  Got to the creek and both dogs got a little wet and then up a steep bank to the wider trail.

At the top we sorta startled a bunch of turkeys.  Mostly babies but a few hens.  With all the racket I make hiking I have no idea how I could startle anything, but there you are.  Olive decided she was a Turkey hunter extraordinaire.  Fin decided she didn't want anything to do with no freak'n turkeys and could we just go now.  I was with Fin.

The next 5 minutes was Fin and I walking at a good clip and dragging an 11 pound pulling jerking machine.  Finally after the bridge she calmed down and was a good hiker.  About 45 minutes later we passed back by where the Turkeys were and a repeat of the same behavior.  Time for a head halter I think.

In other news, I am headed to a trial this weekend. Not entered in a ton of classes because Little "O" and Piggy Smalls will be together and I want plenty of time to spend tiring them out. Should be a fun weekend. Got a good friend with me and she has plenty of energy. I see a ton of restrained recalls in our future.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Puppy Raising - Just Plain Hard Work

Tired.  It is a word that describes so much.  Olive, Little "O", the RoRo.  Adorable. Loving. Quick. Smart. Capable. Naughty. Busy. Extraordinary. Independent. Dependent. Easy. Hard. Cuddly. Wiggly. Frustrating. Joyful. She is one little firecracker that sometimes does what you want and surprises you, and then doesn't do what you expect when you expect it.

Take for example the simple behavior of a recall.  Olives recall is "Ro, touch".  This generally brings her running whether she has a toy or not.  Runs to my hand and touches it.  More often then not leaving the toy in my hand (Yeah!).  Yes, I often feel like a pitching machine, but wow, such a cool feeling...sorta like I have some control (or maybe not).

Just before this photo was taken, I had called.  She just looked at me, bit her toy, looked at me again, and lay there.  The ignoring behavior resulted in me catching her and putting her in her crate.  Hopefully she'll figure out that when she doesn't come "she goes in the crate" rather than, if she doesn't come, "run for the hills cause food mama is coming for ya!"

A good recall about 20 minutes later. 
Hmm.  We are back in the same position.  She must like this spot.  The sun is warm.  I'm not going to recall now, didn't work last time.  Instead I decide to get the toy to interact with her.
I did get some tugging with the toy.  Always a winner for me.
She will also recall without a toy.  Except of course if you really need her to recall, or a butterfly flies across her path, or the growing grass distracts her, or .....  But often she does come back.
But ALWAYS, she is most happy.  Happy to do anything with ya.  Happy Happy Happy. 

Yesterday she received a package in the mail.  Her own purple hiking harness.  Well of course we had to try it out.  Off to coyote creek trail with Fin and Olive.  She was a good girl.  I wouldn't say that she listened to me, more likely just walked nicely on the leash in a non reactive way.  Fin was on a head halter for the parts where we see people (so she was good) and both just walked in front of me for the 2.5 mile loop.  Totally a fun walk and a tired puppy was the result.

We do have to work on her drinking water while hiking behavior.  She tried to swim in the water bowl.  Poor Fin.  Muddy water was the result.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Typical Mornings are eventful

5:30:  Up to potty all the dogs - Olive, of course, is on leash.
5:40: Everyone inside, Olive goes in her crate
5:42:  All shelties line up and in crates for breakfast
5:45: Make Olive breakfast, release from crate, work on: touch, sit, backup, sit stay, crate games, go to pillow, leave it, tug with me
6:00: Go outside, play ball, work on recall to hand.
6:10: Shelties come out I begin poop pick up
6:11: JRT over the fence into the back part of the property running around like a lunatic with a ball in her mouth
6:12: Maddie sees a squirrel and starts barking, I'm out in the back trying to catch a JRT.
6:12.5:  Fin and Tazz are barking at me trying to get the JRT to come (Rocky is my only good dog!)
6:15: Kel bursts out the back door not pleased with all the barking (imagine man in pagama pants waving arms and whispering loud demanding all the barking stop)
6:20:  Everyone is back in the house, I have muddy paw prints all over my pajamas...AGAIN!

At this point if ANYONE asks why Olive is not on a leash when I do poop pickup I might cry. 
I think I'll try this again later.  Maybe with a little less chaos and a leash.

PS:  The good news:  Kel didn't step in any poo as he was running around waving his ams and clapping trying to get Maddies attention.  She might be deaf, gets lost in closets, but when she sees a squirrel, she is 3 again.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The letter F

This week in our advanced foundation class, we worked our letters.  Letter F was on the agenda last night.

I highly recommend using Nancy Gyes Alphabet Drills to practice handling exercises.  I love the ideas presented and the clear explanations of handling.  For Wed evening, I set up the letter F and added a tire and table.  Students started with just the leadout of 1-3 and rewarded for that.  We then added 4 and 5 and rewarded for the FC in front of 5.  Lastly we put it all together.

Everyone did such a great job.  These baby dogs are certainly coming along.  So much fun to see both the dogs and the handlers gaining confidence. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Today I'm Relieved...

.... that my little charge is here for 4 months and not 15 years.  She is totally way to intelligent for me.
Last night, lights out at 10pm.  I take her outside for one last potty.  She runs to the side gate wanting to go into the back yard.  I said, "No, go potty, hurry."  (Been working on her NOT climbing the fence and that is far.)  She looks at me, wags her tail and starts to walk along the fence line (I'm thinking...what a great little dog - god I can be so naive).  A tree root had pushed up the wire fence at one point and she looks at it and stops.  Again she looks at me and wags that frigg'n cute tail of hers.  I see what she is looking at and I say, "Ro! Touch" (her really reliable recall...except I guess when freedom is staring her in the face).  Under the fence she goes.  Into the back never never where there are probably skunks and possums and oh yeah...a few raccoons...also the most wonderful smells in the universe (cause you know...the back area smells so much better than the front area).

Oh crap.  I really want to go to bed not go into the back 3rd of the property to find a little white naughty dog.  Back I go.  tracking her to make sure she doesn't get into trouble and waiting for an opportunity to call her so she'll come (don't want to keep calling if I know she isn't coming back).

She does her business, runs around a bit and then I see an opportunity and call and right into my arms she comes.  So happy.  Kisses.  Many kisses.  I carry her back, give her a cookie and to bed we go.

My husband tries to fix the fence but it is late and I tell him to not worry about it.  I'll get it in the morning.

This morning I'm up at 5am because I have conference calls starting at 6am - 12 noon.  Rough morning for all of us.  I walk out with them (my regular routine) and 4 good shelties go about their business.  One very naughty JRT runs DIRECTLY to the dam fence, pops right under and off she goes.

I'm thinking that she stayed up all night thinking about how when I let her out she is going for it.  While I innocently thought we'd have a nice potty, breakfast, and a training session before I get on my marathon of calls.  Silly me.

Fence is now fixed.  I might not be quick, but I eventually get the picture.

Now the question will be raised, "Why isn't she on leash when you take her potty?"  I'll admit.  It has been due to me being lazy.  That little thing is also fixed.  Leash is at the ready and this little girl will be on it.

Monday, July 16, 2012

A couple of videos

Team jumpers. So much fun.

 Steeplechase Round One! Smoked it.

The camping life

I think I like the camping life.  Borrowing my sisters tent was the best thing I've done in a while.  It is HUGE!  Perfect for the 3 dog family.  During the day Fin and Tazz hung out in a very nice xpen and Olive hung out in her crate. 

It was cold mornings and evenings. So the tent stayed very comfy.  During the day I opened all the windows for air and only needed the fan on Sunday afternoon.

We had tons of fun play sessions and training sessions.  Shelties watched and were very good.  During Clicker sessions Tazz had to go elsewhere as it was just too much to see me feed another dog.  Fin was very good girl and got to watch all the learning happen.

Loads of short quick tug sessions.  Hoping this week to improve the tugging and increase duration reducing some of the distracted behavior.

"They're looking at me!!!"

My views were of other campers.  There were about 50 campers on a baseball field.  I could imagine what it would be like to have more woods around.  I was shocked at how quiet it was after about 10.  People were really good.

Piggy Smalls and Little "O" had great wrestling matches.  He's bigger, but she is older.  We managed the sessions and they had a great time.

Fin has some great runs.  She ran her little heart out and was exhausted by Sunday.  She loved having her private window and watched the kitchen area to see what was up.

Tazz came home with a Snooker AND a Standard.  I get a standard about once every 2 years with him so I'm thrilled.  For the most part he was a very good boy but I could tell that 3 days of all the excitement was getting to him.  He was getting harder to manage on Sunday.  But I know he had a wonderful time camping.

The view out my front door.  We set up some canopies and other tents all facing into the canopies.  This was our shared space where we set out our food.  We had another canopy off to the side that was the kitchen/shower area.  Boy, traveling with experienced campers sure makes a difference.

I broke down a purchased a coat as Olive was chilled in the mornings and evenings.  She rocked the coat like she does everything. 

Overall, I like the camping experience.  Will absolutely do it again. Camping and doing 3 days of agility is exhausting.  I'm tired today, but had a fabulous time.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

And I'm off...

Headed to the Monterey Pennisula for a camping/agility weekend.  I'm sure I'll have plenty of stories to tell. 

Fin will be running most classes.  Tazzie is in a few. 

Evenings with my peeps pot lucking it on site.  Only porta potties will be my biggest problem...but in all things there is joy.  At least I don't have to use the bushes.

Packing now as Ro and I are teaching tonight.  Hopefully a good nights sleep and then up at 5 to head down to run in team!

The result of today was a tired puppy...

After a very busy day of work and managing play sessions throughout the day, Ro got to go teach agility with me.  Before class there was much work to be done in setting up the field.  To assist me HotShot and Ro ran around making me laugh. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A little bit of training....

Started shaping sessions yesterday.  Today we had our 5th session.  I would say RoRo is learning fast.

I stared targeting my hand.  This is the "first" session of targeting a stick.  She got it immediately.

This is 3rd session of putting front feet on pivot bowl.  The first two sessions there was a ton of leaping straight up in the air and me standing right by the bowl.  In this session hardly any jumping and I was able to get a little distance from the bowl.  Next step is to work on back feet movement.

Favorite Things

Whenever I get a new dog to work with, my first job is to find out what makes this dog tick.  Red Olive (or RoRo) as she is now becoming is no exception.  There are absolutely things she loves and things she just doesn't care about.

#1 Dirty old tennis ball.  No not just any tennis ball.  New ones, not so much.  Plastic orange, only if she has to.  Bring out a yucky old one and wow, that turns her on.  And by the way, don't even try to trick her by putting it on a rope.  Just not the same.  Ok, maybe play just a little, but really truly, just the tennis ball will be fine.

#2 Follow the leader around the back yard.  She loves to just follow me around.  If the other dogs are out, that is fine, but most important is that her human is moving. Freedom to smell all the smells, but keep an eye on the human.  If the human tries to hide, that is a fun game too, humans are so funny.  Humans can not hide from her.  Even better, have a dirty tennis ball in her mouth.

#3 Resting in the shade next to the human with a dirty tennis ball

There is a theme here. 

Other things that we are teaching her to like:
  • Training!!  So much fun.  We have touch, stand on pivot bowl, it's your choice, and started on crate games.
  • Chasing and killing toys!  Still a work in progress, but we are getting some tugging.
  • Wait for it...wait for it...ready steady "break!"  fun game chase the human and get a reward.
She is really cute.  Very sweet.  Totally distracted by everything in her environment.  A love bug. Intense when she wants to be.  Appropriate will all the other dogs. (Except when she is jumping up and down in excitement and lands on Tazz.  Let's just not do THAT again!)

It is a pain to have another dog in the household.  Fin is not happy, Tazz and Rocks are perfectly fine with it as long as they get their time, and Maddie...well with Maddie it is hard to tell if she really cares one way or another.  But, having the opportunity to work with a new breed is priceless.  I have had many opportunities to work with people and their different breeds, but there is nothing like having to live with a pup to get to know the ups and downs of their personality.

Right now after two training/play sessions we have some quiet time in the crate.  Essential to me actually getting some work done.  Yes, I do have to pay the bills as well as play with a puppy, and walk 4 dogs, and practice agility with two, and pick fruit, clean up the garden, vacuum....the list goes on....

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Monday, July 9, 2012


Tazz, "I could push her in."

"I'm really cute.  It makes up for all my naughtiness."

No pictures for now

Started my day at 5:30.  Everyone out to potty, breakfast, then a quick neighborhood walk with Fin/Tazz. 

All dogs in kennels by 6:15.  Puppy play and train for 30 minutes.  Got some good tug this morning, tried a little shaping to put feet on the bowl.  Got tons of interest, much leaping straight up in the air, some trying to figure out, stopped before interest was lost.  Tried tugging again, but no interest in tugging.  Wanted more clicker training.  I need lower value treats.

Took her for a short walk in the backyard, a bit of retrieve with the ball for some bursts of exercise as well as circle work.  Then nap time.

7:00am.  Wake husband up and I'm at work.

9:00am Break and a quick training session.  Got some tug and played fetch. 
Notes:  Still looking for chicken from morning clicker session.  Less interested in tug second session.
After the play session, I had a bite for breakfast.  All dogs were loose.  Miss busy never stopped moving.

Now back to work for me, nap time for all the pups.  Busy day ahead.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A lot can happen in a day...

First this little cutie had to get some exercise.  Lots and lots of running around carrying things.  Tons of carrying things to piles.  The piles are hers.  But if you want her pile, no problem.  She'll just make another pile.  No worries mate.

Arriving at the new field the grass is looking better.  Still lots to be done in making sure the grass is perfect for agility.  Even with the gopher fencing we are getting damage along the sides.  Water system needs work.  Isn't that the way it always goes.

But overall it is looking like a sports field and that is what we want!

Workers arrived.  This worker is a little unsure of the quantity of the work.  He is thinking sitting in the shade might be the thing.

Got a ton done.  I was the lucky one.  Had to go to the house multiple times and sit in the shade and stare at my puppy.  I did lunch runs, weeded, and picked up trash.  I might have been caught digging a little, but most of the hard work was done by my peeps!  Thanks Greg, Penni, Jeannine, Leigh, and of course Laura.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Mmmmmmm...look what the cat drug in....

This is little Roja.  She is visiting for a while.  Could she stay.  Well I'm not promising anthing, but if Tazzie has anything to say, he really likes her.  Ask Fin, and nope, the munchkin is not really wanted.  Hopefully she'll warm up.

Yep.  You are not looking at a Sheltie.  Nope that isn't a BC.  You might be thinking, why that looks like a JRT, and you'd be right. 

Tonight I am exhausted.  We spent the day building fences at our new agility field and I spent time making sure the new little pup would be tired tonight.  Success!!!  She spent a little time wrestling with her new best buddy "Hotshot" learning about border collies and how they hog the ball. 

Back at home she fits in nicely.  Maddie and Fin ignor her (not sure Maddie even knows she is here yet).  Rocky and Tazz are very interested but also very nice.  She is amazingly appropriate with all the dogs.  She is starting to seek me out a bit and that is a start.

Friday, July 6, 2012

This week it is about proofing contacts...oh and maybe a little package might be arriving tomorrow...

Setting up a little something in the back yard to work on contacts.  Notice where I'm placing the tunnels.  My plan is to move the tunnels closer and closer to the contacts to see if I can get some breakage.  Little Finster is going to rock her contacts this weekend!

Tomorrow there might be a new face at Whizworld.  Yes of course four is enough.  But seems that we've gotten a little relaxed at home and it is time to mix it up a bit.  I think you'll be surprized.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Road to Colorado does not necessarily have paved roads

Planning a trip to Colorado in September.  Really want to go and want all my buddies to go.  But it can be stressful. 

I am qualified.  Even have a bi for Steeplechase Semi's.  But still need one more Grand Prix.  I have friends who are running amazing, but still need a couple Q's.  The question I keep asking myself is, "am I having fun". 

I remember trying to qualify for the AKC Nationals coming off Fin's injury.  She and I weren't clicking.  I was going to every AKC I could find in the Bay area and everyone I knew was trying.  After a while I quit trying because it just stopped being fun.  Some of it was the disappointment, but I get over that easily.  Most of it was the stress of all the competitors trying to get there and the attitude when the Q's didn't happen.  Normally happy people had frowns on their faces showing clearly how disappointed  they were for not getting that double Q or points needed. 

Now, I'm not having a problem at all in AKC.  I go, have fun and even qualify (imagine that!).

At this point, my run for the gold is still amazingily fun.  I want to keep my attitude that I have everytime I run.  Each run is for the joy of the connection I have and continue to build with my dog.  Yes there is a goal "run in all three events."  But if I don't attain that goal, doesn't mean life isn't good.

As I go into the next trial (in two weeks) I am on a team with a friend hoping for a Q.  In all my heart I hope that we do qualify.  But honestly for me, it is about being on a team and enjoying the company of the girls and dogs I'm playing with.

Maybe the road isn't well paved, but I'm ready for some off road fun!