Tuesday, July 30, 2013

OMG - Olive is doing agility....

Granted, I have a tennis ball in my hand.  But still.  She is speedy and cute.  What more could a girl want.

Then we did the same course with more obstacles.  I need to work on her serps and weaves a bit, but overall she is doing great and making baby dog mistakes.  (Let's not talk about my mistakes, :) )

Love how on this one she comes out of the tunnel and shoot going all terrier on me looking for the ball.  Makes me smile.  But she comes back making some great tight turns and very mature decisions. 

We didn't do any contacts this morning at class.  She got sniffy (tells me she is tired of working).  That's ok.  Put her in her crate and let her be done. 

Last night we did work and got some good tugging and A frame work in.  I'm doing a running A frame (god help me) and using a box to get her striding in.  Much fun is being had by all.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Blowing in the wind

Yesterday after the drama, I was walking from the kitchen to go to my office and as I walked by the stairs, there was Olive sitting in the sun.  When I stopped to look at her she faced the upstairs and barked.  Clearly communicating that something she wanted was upstairs.

Since the lighting was beautiful, I grabbed the phone and snapped a few.  They turned out so nice.  Sometimes, the opportunity that presents itself is better than the planned activity.

She persisted in her insistence that something was upstairs.  I undid the gate and let her up and she immediately returned with her ball.  Why her ball was upstairs is still a mystery, but she is much quieter now.

Olive is now 1.5 years old.  I've had her a little over a year.  What a year it has been.  Certainly my life would be less complicated without her.  But what I would have missed!
Here is a post from about a year ago with photos of her at 6 months.  It was the same type of opportunity, she was sitting in the sun on the step and I happened to have my phone in my hand.  She hasn't changed much at all.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Why First Aid for Dogs is Important

Today was a day I won't easily forget.  My sweet old sheltie nearly died today.  It all started over the weekend when she came down with diarrhea.  I put her on a chicken and rice diet.  This morning I added kibble to the rice mixture.  I asked my husband to watch the dogs (Tazz can push the girls off their food) and I walked down the hall to feed Olive (she gets breakfast in her crate or for training treats).
Just as I let Olive out of her crate to play some tricks, Kel yells that he needs me NOW!  I put Olive in her crate with her food and run down the hall.  Kel says he thought Maddie was throwing up but he guesses she is ok now.  I see Maddie running, stumbling, falling at me...then past me as I grab her to see what is the matter.  I thought she might be having a heart attack or a seizure.
When I got down with her I realized she couldn't breath.  I figured she had something caught in her throat.  I knew that in cases like this you should lift the dog up by the hind end and see if they can work it out.  Doing this I called to Kel and he was by my side.  I had him hold her up and I got down and opened her mouth.  Her tongue and gums were grey.  Her eyes were sunken and looked wrong.  I opened her mouth and reached up and she had her breakfast caught in her throat.  She was loosing consciousness. I just kept scooping and pulling crap out until she bit me pretty hard (thankfully she doesn't have many teeth).  I stopped then and waited letting her try to catch a breath.
Maddie was still having trouble breathing, but at least you could see she was getting some air.  Then I said, "I'm taking her to the emergency vet."  Kel said wait for me I'll change and we'll go together. I put her in my car on the passenger side and waited for Kel.  The time it took for Kel to get there, she became calm and was breathing normally.
Thank goodness.  Been watching her all day and she is fine.  Even spunky enough to bark at the UPS truck!
I believe that Maddie started to gulp her food and with the rice it was too dry and sticky and got caught.  If she'd have eaten slower, or I had wet the food more... Tonight I'm feeding her kibble by kibble!
I have my friend Cindy Wilde to thank for the life saving advice.  We were talking about a class for first aid and specifically what she learned about choking.  That advice helped and I am forever grateful.  I am totally getting myself to the first aid for dogs class soon!
I may post and upload photos of my other dogs more often than Maddie (it is hard with a black headed dog to get good pictures), but rest assured I love this little girl.  She is my sidekick and office staff.  She loves my tomatoes, getting scratches, sleeping on the couch, and I adore her.  Nothing makes me happier then to watch her get the zoomies on the agility yard.  Every one of my dogs loves to wrestle with Mads...yet Maddie has ruled this house since she came to live here in 1999.  At 14 years old, we live and enjoy every day together and hope for many years ahead of us.

Update:  July 25 - Maddie is doing great.  After she rested, I cleaned her up and let her sleep all day.  She is normal this morning, causing trouble :)  Ate breakfast and all systems are functioning normally.  I believe I need to get an elevated food bowl for her.  I've been hand feeding and I see that he is bending funny and scooping her food but when I elevate, she is eating more regularly.  Such a weird experience yesterday.  Love my Mads!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Weekend Fun

Had a fun time at the USDAA trial SMART put on this weekend.  Certain Challenges plagued me, but despite these challenges I really enjoyed the interesting courses our judges presented us.

Fin ran her little heart out.  So much so, that I had to scratch her from her last class on Sunday.  Three days of so many classes did her in.  She is still sleeping.  Bringing home the bacon in our usual exciting style, we came home with a number of Q's as well as FINALLY not E'ing in Master Challenge.  We  are one refusal away from Q'ing in these crazy hard courses. We didn't have a ton of dogs in our 12" perf classes so despite a few wide turns, having to lay down after leaping her contacts, and perhaps a little lacking in listening skills, we did fairly well, even bringing home some steeplechase winnings.

Olive had a great time enjoying life, getting groomed by her bestie Julie and Jeanine, hiking, playing at the practice jump, and enjoying sitting on my lap, laying in the sun, and basically being her special little self.

Best of all, this was a debut for some of Morgan Hill Dog Sports students!  It was so much fun watching them compete in Starters and doing so incredibly well.  I could have just sat and watched starters all day long!

Can't wait till the end of August and we do it all again!!!!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


My life, like many of my agility friends are full of dreams.  Each time any of us get a puppy and start our training programs we look down the road and wish for an agility partner.  A partner that is consistent, happy, eager ...and yes,  competitive.  We talk about how clever, smart, cuddly, joyful, naughty our little dogs are. We post progress videos and photos showing how amazing our dogs are.  But mostly we smile as we put hours upon hours of training into the teammate we will have for years to come.
We look for that shining star and our hopes and dreams lay on that little bundle of fur.  Some of us find a friend/mentor to help us on our way.  Most of us start right away working impulse control games, teaching tricks, and developing a relationship with our dogs based on time, effort, compassion, and love.

Our young dogs represent the future to us and a bright future it is.
But what happens when those dreams don't pan out?  When the going gets tough.  When your pup shows behavior patterns not consistent with a future champion of the world.  These challenges might be physical, or mental.  But challenges they are.  How you face that disappointment will test your mettle as a human being and a dog trainer.  Because, that's what we are, aren't we.  Dog trainers.

When your dog says, "Talk to the paw." What is your response.  Do you give up.  Do you look for reasons outside of yourself?  Do you look at your training program seeking answers?
Recently I've faced some challenges.  Olive (yes little miss perfect) has been having some motivational issues.  Yes they all occurred during the heat spell we recently had and I believe the heat and her lack of wanting to play agility are connected.  But how I respond to it is what is important.  I had a number of emotions happening all at once when Olive over a period of 2 weeks showed me that she was loosing connection with me.
  • First I got scared and worried that after all this time why wasn't she paying attention!?
  • I questioned, "Why is this happening (reliving all the years trying to get Tazz to play with me)." ... poor me :(
  • Then I got a little depressed but pretended it was no big deal. 
  • Why, I had dreams of starting agility in August!!!  What if she is like this and I can't sign her up?
  • My stress in thinking she wouldn't perform and the honest desperation that I felt caused Olive to get lifeless and uninterested in playing with me. 
  • Oh it makes me so mad when someone says, "well what did you expect, she is a terrier"
  • Then I said, "what have I done wrong?"  Too much freedom, not enough training, did I get lazy?
  • The spiral of non performance was humiliating.
Then something interesting happened.  I put my big girl pants on and started looking at the hard work other people were putting into their dogs.  Students and friends with bigger problems than me.  A little white dog that was demotivated seemed small compared to a 85 pound reactive dog.  People with dogs that were much older that Olive that still couldn't trial due to much worse issues then a little sniffing.
I realized that my expectations are getting in the way of Olive's fun.  Me feeling I need to push to get this pup ready for a competition that is meaningless in the long term was part of the problem.  Me expecting too much from her was simply stressing her out. 
Agility training is a journey.  It is a journey that has bumps and lumps along the way.  I don't know of anyone that has not faced challenges in their paths, reactivity, health issues, motivation, physical problems (both handler and dog), inexperience ... all these things are part of what makes this sport a challenge.  How you deal with the challenges that face you will say a lot about how much enjoyment you will get out of the sport.
I'm not proud of the emotional wreak I have been these last few weeks.  Why I'm a better person than to feel such things as sorry for myself when my problems are nothing.  But there you go.  It is real.  Negative thoughts slip in and sometimes it is difficult to stop them from happening.
What do I always say?  "Have fun."  If you aren't having fun, ask yourself why.  Well last weekend I did ask myself why and came up with an answer.  My expectations are getting in the way of my training program. 
Isn't that a problem we all face?  Silly expectations. 
As I watch Olive go through her paces this morning with a fire in her eyes and joy in her heart, I know that taking things slow is the way for her and I.  So what if we don't trial right away.  Most important is joy in both our hearts.  Because, the journey is not about praise or posting blue ribbons on facebook, the journey is about the relationship and connection I have with my dog.