Sunday, March 22, 2009

Breeze playing and Keeping busy

I really LOVE to watch dogs playing, I could do that all day-this is Breeze being crazy and her really happy self while we are training, this toy has great floppability as you can see. Breeze has a lot of fun when ever we do agility but she just gets so happy when we are working at home.

Since the last month has had a lot of windy, cold or wet days I have been doing some knitting and these are the results. All these socks have a real heel flap and gusset so I am pretty proud I have got that down-not long ago socks were a weird mystery to me. The striped socks were done in a stockinette stich and are made of a wool yarn. The brown/pink socks are from my buddy at Lazy Perry Ranch-she hand dyes the yarn and has an internet shop-the link to her blog is at the side of mine. The pink/brown socks are worked in a pattern called Openwork Rib, the grey/pink socks were worked in a double moss stitch and are using a yarn called Tofootsie-which is a really stretchable yarn, then the yellow/brown socks were made with yarn from the Lazy Perry Ranch/those are in a basketweave pattern. The black ones are this really neat pattern-I wish it showed up better on the picture. It turned out really nice and shows the dog hair really well, the pattern is called scrolls-and is just really lacy looking. That yarn is my favorite, it just feels so nice, I think it is a BFL fingering weight from Lazy Perry Ranch. All socks were knitted on a size 0 needle and all the yarn is fingering weight. The patterns came from Sensational Knitted Socks and More Sensational knitted Socks from Charlene Schurch. Between those great instructions and the help from Collette from LPR, I think these all turned out really nice. There is also a scarf I knitted with a chenelle yarn which I hated working with, the color changes were just no fun and the ends of the yarn would not co operate and stay in place with the color changes because the yarn is so slick-that yarn was definately NOT from Collettes shop-she wouldn't do that to me or her customers!


Saturday, March 21, 2009

I love things that make me think and seem to relate to my present life circumstance. Check out this video, it was posted on Susan Garrett blog and wow, it really made me think. If you are going to really do your best and really push the envelope you are going to fail, if you are not ready to fail you will never get to your best performance. I think about that in relation to agility and I think of all the people that run very carefully through a course, slow their dogs down so they can be close to them/control the whole situation and feel the whole objective to running a course is just to get a Q. Sometimes it is hard when I see all their Q's and I know we have a long way to go in our training. I hope I can always remember when I am bummed because we tried something and pushed the envelope and failed that we might have just won a little victory, because we have learned. A good life lesson.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Accupuncture and Chiro appointment March 17

Breeze got to see the holistic vet today. Last visit she had her back pretty badly tweaked, so we had to adjust some of her training. That was three weeks ago, and after a couple of days of rest right after her adjustment Breeze has worked pretty much every day since that visit, but with some other precautions. Today her back was very slightly out and her right hip was rotated up a little-but then it always is, but the vet was very happy with how she was looking. It seems a good way for us to see how Breeze is doing is to watch how her back is doing. When Breeze's hips hurt she compensates and her back gets out of place, you can actually see the little roach bump in her back get more pronounced. We are continuing with the exercises and stretching and jumping but making sure the sessions do not last too long and I am using her Back on Track dog coat before exercise, between turns in class and after exercise. I really have been pleased with the Back on Track coat so far It is made with ceramic fibers, it isn't really super thick, it covers her whole rear end/up the cervical spine area and even has a little zipper to let her tail out. The jacket is supposed to help the muscles cool down more slowly, increase the blood flow to the area before exercise and they have some small studies with horses that showed it helped their gaits. What ever is working right now it is terrific to see Breeze doing well, she enjoys being active and is is so sad when she can not be as active as she would like to be.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Working on more Foundation with Breeze

I tried to get some video of some of our practice sessions this morning, not that it is that exciting but it does show what I am talking about but for some reason I just can not upload it, so not sure what I messed up there...but....

It just seems you can never have enough foundation. I keep finding little or sometimes big holes in my training. So one thing that has cropped up in our training is the fact that I think Breeze would LOVE to run an agility course with her head turned around backwards watching me the entire course-I am mostly way behind her after all. You know she is actually pretty good at running and jumping with her head turned around, but I am sure it would be much safer if she was a little more focused at times on what is coming up. One place it is really showing up is the start line. I could seriously sit for a long time waiting for her to look and find the first obstacle, so I started doing a few exercises from Susan Garrets One Jump DVD. I started on the flat without a jump just throwing out a toy and then I would click and release her to the toy when she looked away from me. She actually did very well when there was no jump and we were working on the flat. I added in the jump and boy, she can wait me out for a really long time before she looks away from me. I was not able to simply release her for really looking at the jump because I just plain was not getting that so I was clicking for looking away or looking at the jump and I will increase my criteria as she gets the game.

Another misconception that Breeze has is that the first jump is sort of optional, and it is hilarious to see how far out of her way she will go to miss that first jump. I have been working on that by just rewarding in front of the first jump even when we are doing a longer sequence, and I am just walking around the back yard and rewarding when she goes over a jump and doing a little variation of the Linda M exercises on page 24 of her book-basically putting Breeze close to a jump and I go far away from it and then reward for going over it and putting Breeze very far from a jump and I stand closer to it and then reward when she takes the jump.

The funny thing is that with Cherry I have mostly trained her with the ball and throwing things, and she is sort of fuzzy on the idea of say coming out of a tunnel and looking for me, she is scanning the horizon looking for a flying ball, so with her I am working on sometimes rewarding from my body because she is very object focused. Do you suppose one day I will get the exact right balance in my training of handler and object focus? LOL, what fun would that be to not have all this stuff to fix????

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The United Nations has nothing on me!

What happens when you have two teenage girls and need to redo a bathroom-the hall bathroom that guests, the kids and the hubby use? Well, I may have pulled off my most awesome feat to date-we got the bathroom redecorated and I believe everyone is happy except my hubby who has to balance the checkbook. When coming up with the theme my younger daughter wanted wild, bright monkeys with bright greens. It was a very cute idea and I could have been happy with it, but the older teen was not seeing it. The older barely teen is all of a sudden liking sophisticated things, stripes, and lots of dark colors. Ooops, not a good way to marry those two ideas. So then we went around with a world map theme and my younger wanted some really cute penguins.....Well, all of a sudden I found some really cool monkey pictures. One had a green border and one had a pink, but a soft faded sort of look. So I was able to get both the girls to agree on a monkey theme with a shower curtain that is green with circles-a very spa looking thing, with monkey shower curtain rings, some spa looking towels that match the shower curtain and little embroidered monkey hand towels on top of that. I never thought we would be walking out of that store with everyone happy and totally on board, and every thing looks beautiful together. so we have the painting done and should be all done this afternoon. All we need is to pipe in my friends phone ring tone with is something about a monkey and spanking and we will be all co ordinated. I was so sick of that bathroom but no one could ever agree on what to do with it, so how cool is that to have that done? UNFORTUNATELY I will probably never get all the paint off my body or out of my hair, but guess that is a small price to pay!

Cherry the amazing border collie

We got together this weekend on Saturday to set up a little course and work on some handling. Sort of like a fun run, we were all on our own to train what we needed-so that was a lot of fun. Cherry is finally starting to sequence and she has an awesome understanding of some things. Once you get Cherry to understand what you want once...she is just on it. What an amazing dog. For anyone who doesn't know about Cherry-she is from Contact Point Border Collies and most likely will be heading back there soon to have puppies. So she isn't my dog but she is a honorary family member and has been here since last summer. Well, she is such a fun dog to work with, but I put her on the start line and tried a little lead out with her on Saturday. She is just starting to get ready for such things, but she came running toward me-slicing over two jumps then read an awesome rear cross and another rear cross into the weaves. She really isnt reading rear crosses yet but the drive to the weaves keep her on the right line. The thing about her is that standing there thinking about what I needed to do to tell her where we were going-it was the most awesome, wild feeling seeing her coming at me-the exact thought was "oooh CRAP, I have to get moving". My other borders are very fast but Cherry's speed and power are just thrilling. It just felt so different and a little intimidating, because everything happens so fast and timing is everything, that girl has a lot going on. She just has so much talent. So please don't tell Liz or Breeze that I think Cherry is faster....I would hate to discourage them because they are pretty darn awesome and they are no slacks in the speed department, it is just that Cherry is just freaky fast. I am working on her jumping skills-Cherry had an FHO when she was young and it takes a long time to get her ready to jump a few inches more. We have sort of gone through this with each jump height and she is now jumping 16 wonderfully in a course, and 18 really nice popping over and she has done ok most of the time with that when I add a little speed, but she definately isnt doing 20 with any speed at all yet. It was like this with the 16 and the 18 so it will be interesting to see with more work and time if she is able to do 20 or 22-I personally think it is all a matter of developing more muscle and being able to pick those back feet up more, but guess we will see.

WELL, what a week. I am finding myself a little overwhelmed at times trying to keep up with the training needs of four dogs. Not to mention my little back yard hero sheltie Skyler who is always like any dog needing a little tweaking here and there. I have been working a lot with the dogs on a really irritating behavior where when anyone comes to the house they just go nuts, and they have been going nuts in their crates at class. So we have been working on Susan Garretts Crate Games. Liz is getting pretty good when the door bell rings or someone comes to the house I tell her go crate and she runs to her crate, sits in there looking out until I tell her she is released. I have only been able to keep her in there for a short time but we are building up and it is going to take a lot of work to get all the dogs doing this at the same time, but it is just too wild right now so it is going to have to be done. I am finding when you have five dogs -each with a lot of energy who are roaming the house all the time it just is more important that they all understand what you want. So anyway, a lot of words to say I have not done so good working on the contact behaviors. Actually I just have to get out with the lowered Aframe and then slowly raise it so the dogs all understand how to collect themselves at fast speeds. It has just been too windy and rainy the last week. There is ALWAYS more to train and I always feel like I am behind in something.....such is my life.