Saturday, February 23, 2013

Olives First Grown-up Dog Workshop

We worked on our boxes today.  Came home with much to work on.  But also came home with a very positive outlook on how we are progressing.  Her jumping really looks great.  She has deceleration and acceleration.  She does go around and come in off of jumps once in a while, but I believe that will fade as understanding of her job continues to build.

The drills were no more than 8 jumps and I often broke it down to 3-4 jumps.  If she got distracted I didn't make a big deal out of it, just picked her up and put her away and the next person went.  After a few, I'd bring her out again and she would be focused and eager to work...funny how that is :)

The video is only a few shorts of the drills we worked on, I have about an hour of video to keep me grounded and give me loads to practice.

Overall I am very excited.  Training is so frigg'n fun!!!

I had planned on staying for the afternoon, but the morning session wiped me out.  Came home coughing and wheezing and took a nap.  Feel much better now!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Happy Birthday Olive!

Olive is 1 year old. 
In six months she will be eligible for USDAA agility!!!! Can't wait!

Olive lived 5 months with her mom and siblings at Alison's house.  She had a great first 5 months. In fact, that foundation that Olive received there has made her the dog she is today.  I first met her at 4.5 months and she came to live with me at 5 months.

The story of Olive began when I made an agreement with Alison to take her for 4 months for training.  Giving Olive a good foundation and giving me an opportunity to see what the JRT life was like (and whether Tazz could stand to live with another dog) the plan seemed like a good one.  I liked Olive mostly because of her personality.  She was so very much into her people and her ball and I felt I could work with that. I think everyone but me knew I'd fall in love...even my husband who was dead set against another dog, let me bring Olive home for 4 months...... 7 months ago.

We worked on her recall from the beginning.  We are still working on our recall!  The first clue that she might be staying is when I changed her name.  Christened "Roja" at birth, I made the excuse to change her name for training reasons.  I have, for a long time, had a name in mind for a JRT that I might someday get.  Of course I couldn't use that name due to the fact that my husband might think I was considering keeping her. My best bud introduced me to the childrens book, "Olive the Other Reindeer," and that was that. 

She was intense...ok she is still intense.

Loud and enjoys her sun, Olive is not one to hold back on her feelings.

Finding fun even in the most unlikely places.  Olive found a small grape tomato at the USDAA Nationals.  She rolled on that thing for 20 minutes.

We lived through her first heat (my first time with a dog in heat).  Good news, it was a non event.  Ok, at the time it was tiresome, but overall, not too bad.  We expect another heat cycle around May/June.

Olive the other reindeer had to wear silly cloths for me.  She is quite tolerant at times.  Then there are the other times when the inner Terrier comes out.  She has distroyed 4 beds :(

A very happy girl who loves fetch and then a spend a nice long time in the sun.
 Sometimes a very dirty girl, always entertaining.
 She is so much fun to buy colars and harnesses for, you can actually see them!  I gave up getting special colars and harnesses for the shelties.  They were always hidden.
She is always up for a photo opportunity. The poor thing gets really cold as she has hardly any coat, so I have to purchase jackets for her.  She currently has four.  I might be going a little overboard on the whole coat thing.

Ever vigilant for the ball to be tossed, she is an exceptional student.  She is learning every day and training is rarely difficult.  When it is, we stop and play and train another day.
A happy girl that makes me laugh!
Today as I reflect on the past 7 months I realize how my life and the lives of my crew have changed.  Olive sure does mix it up here at Whiz land and although she is still learning about how to behave with the shelties, overall, the experience is making me a better dog trainer. 
I am so grateful that Alison took a chance on me.  I am so grateful that my husband agreed to this little venture.  I am so grateful for a fabulous best friend who wouldn't let me pass on this wonderful little girl. I am very grateful for another friend who hooked me up with Alison. I can't imagine a house without this bundle of energy. 
Happy Birthday Olive!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Getting a little fun in our day

Clearly me moping around the house feeling sorry for myself is at an end.  Flu or no flu, we are getting our butts outta bed and doing some stuff.  I am even going to open up work email and get some work done! 

But before I do anything drastic like work, I took the dogs out for some fun.  Olive worked on her contacts then had some fun doing search and rescue for her tennis ball. 

I love video.  It takes a training session that you feel is pretty successful and shows you how many rewards were wrongly placed.  Although much of the time I like to live the fantasy that my training is always perfect, I've come to truly appreciate video for what it shows.

Take for example the minute of training above (actually probably more like 4 minutes of actual training that I cropped down).  I really felt that I was rewarding for hold her head down and not moving her feet.  The number of rewards that were given when her head is up and her feet are moving is amazing to me.  I need to be more careful and make sure to reward the behavior I am looking for not the behavior I am getting.

In class last week my mentor Moe told me that Olives feet were moving and I needed to work on her holding her feet still.  Later that evening, I was running Fin and she hit her contact and I noticed her feet dancing about.  I pointed this out to Moe and stated, "I'm nothing if not consistent!"  Oh how I want to improve, yet keep training the same dam behaviors dog after dog.  I actually think it is rather funny. 

Olive is a master of the find-it game.  She takes it to new heights.  I think our searches are the kinder gentler version of a barn hunt.  On the back of my property, I make her sit-stay and I walk around pretending to hide the ball.  I try to be really sneaky.  She then gets to go out and "find-it".  We play many versions of this game.

Working on scent work is so interesting.  On cold wet morning with no wind the scent seems to almost soak into the ground and it is harder for her to find things.  On a day like today with the breeze blowing and every once in a while a gust the scent seemed to be very active.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Creeping Crud has invaded my house....

So I've been sick.  Weird.  Been taking care of myself, feeling mighty good.  Saturday, got up early, went to the field, and practiced agility.  Left the field and did a little shopping and my favorite Target.  Home by noon.

In bed by 3.  I have never slept so much in my entire life.  My husband kept checking on me and I would croak at him to "Please" exercise Olive, potty Olive, play with Olive, just make Olive tired!!!

Tazz has been the BEST nurse, never leaving my side.  Rocky has been close by and sympethetic. Maddie wakes me up every morning at 6am sharp to feed her and again at 3pm even though I don't feed till 5pm. Fin is sorta in the Olive camp...get your butt out of bed and play with me!

I am hoping to wake up tomorrow with a new attitude and actually take a walk somewhere other then my back yard.

Staying home from a trial this weekend sucks, but there are more trials in my future and I look forward to one next weekend. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Fun times in Turlock

Air was cool, sun was warm, ground was dirty, lunch with friends was yummy, dinner at 234 Bistro da' with dinner made me giggle.

Hotel was clean, parking lot was full, dogs were tired, walks at hotel were full of weird people smoking by the back door, walks with Laura's Hot Shot (aka, Piggie Smalls, aka: Moose) felt safer than walks with just Fin and Olive, breakfast at the hotel - not recommended.

Olive was cute, Fin was high as a kite.

We ran seven courses.  We Q'd in 2 (Snooker and jumpers).  We ALMOST Q'd in a few more on Sat. and had some nice runs.  Sunday was sorta a shock and awe day.  We actually only finished 1 of 3 courses.  2 courses ended in leaving connection.  Not sure what I could have done differently, but Fin and I were not reading the same agility book that day.  I was on slow and steady and she was on blastomatic take anything and everything, mom will eventually catch up.

Olive worked her sit stays, running straight, turning tight, beat up the BC's, catch the tennis ball before the BC's get it, down stays, sit up, and hang with the agility folks. 

Both dogs had a great time and slept soundly on the ride home Sunday.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Black Holes

I read somewhere that scientists are now able to view the black hole in the milky way.  It has been hidden from our visual view due to technology issues that have recently been resolved.  I'm really excited to find out what the Black Hole contains.  I'm thinking they are going to see all the agility training foundation work that I have not done with Olive!
Previously hidden from my view, the content of my black hole is now glaringly clear as I try to advance toward obstacle performance.

Two weeks ago I was on cloud 9 unaware of any black holes.  We had the last class in a session and Olive was a master of all of the behaviors we were working on.  I went home thinking, "I am da' bomb!  Olive is perfect!" "Yeah for me and Olive...we are superstars"...and so on.

Then I missed last week due to work, so I continued in my personal chant of perfection.

Last night, talk about getting back to earth.  Holey Moley.

Once again.  I'm am a victim of my own habits.  I train what is fun and what I do well at.  I forget to train the stuff that is frustrating.  Then when I do train it, I get it "just enough" then move on to the fun stuff. 

I'm not alone.  I know you do it too!

So this week is all about the plan.  Each day I'm going to work on stuff that is basic stuff.
  • Circle work
  • Recalls
  • Retrieve
  • It's your choice
  • Targeting (2o2o)
  • Running A frame (box)
  • In addition, I can't forget all the stuff that we were working on before:
    • jump work
    • tricks
    • release
    • etc...etc...etc...
Next week, Olive will once again rise to the top of the class (in my mind anyway).  I'm sure there are more black holes in my future.  One never is finished with this thing we call dog training.  But with more awareness and less ego, I'm ready for anything.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Dirty little secrets

Poo eaters.  I had no idea how prevalent it was.

Disgusting. Just plain gross.

I feel like I need a support group.  Olive would stand up and say, "I'm a poo eater, and proud of it!"

Now that I have a poo eater, my yard is constantly clean.  I pick up poop immediately, rain or shine. I always have a poop bag on me when in the back yard.  I follow the dogs around with flashlight in one hand and poop bag in the other. I've become somewhat obsessive about my cleanup. 

My husband laughs and me and my new complusion.  Laugh all you want husband unit, she gives you kisses too!

Now that I have a poo eater, I am very sensitive to the issue.  I never knew so many people had this issue.  It has come to my attention that some famous agility dogs and some up and coming dogs are poo eaters also, I'm learning to embrace the challenge.  Can I get the poo before she does?

Maybe I just didn't listen before, but in the past few months, I've heard more about poo eaters then ever in my life.  I've heard the following:
  • We have a special area for "dog name here" because she eats poo (so these guys let their poo eater only out in one area that is special for her...all the other dogs share an area).
  • My pup went outside for a while then came running into the house twirling a long dried poo in the air (much chaos ensued).
  • I hate it when he grabs and gulps poo on the walk.
  • Well, mine only eats dried up poo (like that is better than a fresh poo eater?  Ok, maybe it is, I'm not going to judge).
  • I've learned to ignor it.  I think if I don't make a big deal about it, it will go away.

It is so very hard for me to believe that my sweet young thing does anything wrong.  She is most perfect in every way.
Last night I set up a tricky jumpers course for students.  I practiced the sequence with Fin and she rocked it.  Then I thought, why not...brought out Olive and she did great!  If I'd stop smiling and giggling while running her, I could probably move faster.  She is "getting it" and for sure enjoying the ride.  Love my little dirty martini ...even if she is a poo eater.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Growing Old

I've got two oldies but goodies.  In 1999 I brought home two of the sweetest little shelties ever.
I should never have gotten two at the same time, but I was grieving the loss of my special dog Chester and that's how these things get started.
Today, 13.5 years later, I am still in love with my old dogs.  Everyday is a blessing to have them in my life.

Maddie, who used to have the most beautiful black coat, has problems with her hair (brittle, thin) so I cut it back.  With not a grey hair on her face (ok a few), she looks like a puppy most of the time.  Physically she is in pretty good shape, however she is deaf, has very bad teeth, and some days gets lost (a little dementia).  But on some days, she is bright and most happy and everyday will initiate a quick wrestle with Fin or Tazz.  I'll even catch her in a short zoomie which is ever so much fun.  She loves these warmer afternoons we've been having and will find the small ray of sunshine and claim it for herself. She is still my clicker master and loves doing tricks.  She never really wanted to do agility, however, she is a very loving and sweet dog.  Her favorite things have to do with food and scratches.  She also likes to be brushed (as long as there are cookies involved).  Some days I think Maddie will live forever!

Rocky gets the vote for most photogenic.  Just this week he is still rock'n the photos (thanks Trish).  The poor dog hasn't a good leg to stand on, between arthritis and elbow dysplasia he is sore most of the time.  He has fatty tumors, one the size of a football, but he is still game for a walk.  Albeit short walks, Rocks loves to explore.  We spend time in the afternoon sun just walking around the back yard.  When he is done, he heads to the deck and sits quietly.  He used to love to wrestle with his sister Maddie, but as he has aged, wrestling just isn't fun anymore.  His favorite thing is the orange ball, but I can't throw it for him anymore because of his bad I hide it and he gets to go find it.  Yeah!  this game is fun.

It is interesting having litter mates as some of the things that ail them are the same.  Rocks is more on the feeble side, could be because his is so large so his body is less forgiving than Maddies.

As I watch them get older, I see the special needs that they share.  They both need "individual" time with Mom each day (even if that is just 15 minutes).  They both still need exercise to keep fit.  They both provide me with such loyalty it makes me tear up to think about it.

Love my Mads and Rocks...just love them.