Thursday, July 30, 2009

Secretes of Russian Agility VOD

I just found these DVDs and video on demand videos at Agility Vision. I really LOVED the little video clip previewing the Russian Agility seminar, and the description sounded so intriguing. I really wanted to check it out so I decided to try the video on demand feature. It cost about $19, and you get computer access to the recorded seminar for three days as soon as you order and pay for it. You can watch it as many times as you want in that time period, you can stop it, rewind it, forward fast, what ever. My only problem with that is that it is hard for me to sit and pay attention for a long time in front of the computer, I keep seeing little things that need to be done or the kids walk in and ask me questions or the phone rings. I can not imagine how I could get through the six hour Linda M seminar, which I am dying to see but that one runs $175, and I would feel like I needed to watch that very closely, and many times to justify that price, so I really wish they would put that on a DVD.

So the presenter speaks only Russian, and Olga is there to translate, so that really is not a problem. One of the things they talked a lot about is that in the US we do not get as many distance skills on our dogs, at least that is how I took the lesson. She starts out in front of a tunnel and wants to get the dog very quickly taking the tunnel on a verbal command ONLY with no body movement. Then she starts with one jump and again wants the dog learning quickly to go over the jump with only a verbal command. I guess she said her older dog can go across a whole agility field and not take any obstacles until she comes to a tunnel if she gives the tunnel command. So then the dog is taught to go over two jumps with the handler just walking slowly toward the second jump and using a verbal command, then they progress to three jumps. Now I was wondering how that fits with a Linda M because I have spent two years teaching my dog to listen to my body language and if I am standing or just walking slowly I would totally expect my dog to not go on or to collect and come back to me. Watching her teach the three jumps though does give me some ideas on how to work with that with the Breezie and she does recommend having someone at the end to throw a toy for you unless you are very good with throwing and with unless you are very good with the timing, so you do not inadvertently reward the dog for turning back (humm, that is my particular specialty, unfortunately!). I already had that plan but I guess it was good thing that it reaffirmed my thoughts on that. I may have got the wrong idea but I kind of felt like some of the ideas were the same as handlers who do NADAC agility with the distance challenges in the higher levels.

So what was interesting is that she uses a specific command, like she uses an "around" command to let the dog know about doing a 270 for example, and she has different commands for like a 180. She does not use a lot of directionals "left" and "right" because like me....she says she has trouble telling left from right and has to think about it, I hear ya sister!!!! She does use the opposite arm to I think cue a turn of direction, but from far away. She talked a lot about being very predictable and consistent with clear hand motions and a consistent body position so that when you are far away from your dog they can be very clear about what you are wanting.

They ended up showing some serpentine, and threadles and different ways to handle those. I was surprised at how many times they let the dog figure it out (make mistakes), but a lot of the time it did not look to me like some of the dogs were figuring it out they just looked confused, and some did seem to figure it out with that approach and it might have looked better if they had more time to show them working it through but they needed to move on with more demos of the next skills. She did stress many times that you should ALWAYS make sure your dog has a really good foundation and is totally proficient with the one skill before you move on. They did say if the dog did the correct behavior twice, or did the behavior right when you walked out to practice on the first try, then it was time to move on. The foundation video was just short of 2 hours, and it said on the web site there was a masters handling video, but I did not see how you could get that, so maybe it is not ready yet??? This was also available in a DVD for $49, and I am glad that I chose the VOD feature, it was good, but probably not one that I would want to refer back to very many times.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Liz and Breeze graduate Handlers Plus class

We ran a super fun course this week in Deanna's class. It was a course based on an excellent course that Ann Croft did. I loved this course and I ran it the way that I first planned, which I noticed everyone else ran on the other side of the Aframe and had a lot of different choices, but I felt pretty confident. It turned out really nice. Deanna changed the course to go into the tunnel the second time around, but in the original course it called for going over the dog walk, through the tire and then around the three jumps to the teeter. That is how I wanted to try to run it, and the first time I yelled thinking that I would need to get Breeze off the tunnel, which made her drop the bar on the next jump. I retried it and just used deceleration and of course Breeze got the turn perfectly....TRUST YOUR DOG, right??? LOL. On the really plus side Breeze was doing marvelous on her contacts, AND SHE IS RUNNING THE DOG WALK AND KEEPING HER FOCUS AHEAD, we might be trialing in standard soon after all.

I have been really watching when Breeze will drive ahead and when she spins and stops and one thing I an considering is could this be because of the path being into fences or areas where there are chairs, or things like that? She understands so well how to go on sometimes and then sometimes will just STOP, and this week anyway the two places she would not drive ahead were the table that went into chairs/crates/the fence, and the last triple which had a chair/crates and some dogs. OK someone has told me I need to throw the toy more and do it BEFORE Breeze turns around or have someone else throw it-because my timing leaves a lot to be desired, so I am going to try that. I had Deanna throw the toy and Miss Smartie pants ran all around the two obstacles and tried to go over the triple, because would that not be the fastest way to the reward? So...we had to hide the transfer of the reward when I had someone else throw it, sometimes it is not such a great thing to have a smart doggie! LOL.

My instructor Deanna was trialing a lot when Breeze's dad was young, he still trials a lot. But anyway, Deanna loves him, and has always talked about how much she likes him. So she did come up to me after class and say it was so neat to watch Breeze run because she reminds her so much of her dad Blew. I consider that a very big compliment.

Isn't it cute, Deanna gave the little Lizard Liz her own honorary diploma. I have never seen her do that before, so I was really touched by that, she is such a nice instructor. Liz sort of shared the class with Breeze and Deanna has always been so wonderful about letting me do my own thing with Lizzie and accommodating her needs.

My one gripe of the day is a "friend" felt it necessary to call me-on my cell phone during class no less.....(I leave the phone on in case the girls need anything), but she felt it necessary to call me up to tell me that someone told her that a lot of the dog club people were commenting on how Liz/I have a difficult relationship, and if you really want to see a bad dog and feel good about your dog, then check out Liz. And guess they were very concerned because we all know that what sort of goals could I have anyway if I have a dog like that? WHAT???? First off I doubt that is true, I think that was probably said by one person, who knows nothing and has only seen Liz once or twice for a split second, so who careswhat they think, but I would really rather not know about it? My beef is why would someone feel compelled to share that with me knowing that it would be a really hurtful thing? I really work hard with Liz and I do not expect everyone to understand her or me or our relationship, but they do not have to, but I sure do not need smack talk especially when I do my best but I am not always sure I am doing all the right things with her, but she has come a long way, I have learned tons, and I love her to death. ANYWAY, that is my gripe for today.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

More Puppies-welcome to the world

On Friday I had to go pick up meat for the dogs from the co-op, then went to the beach with Breeze and I thought about calling Karen and seeing if they needed any help because I knew Gabby was in labor. Gabby is a daughter of Blew, who is also Breezes dad, so a half sister to my Breeze and of course is a Contact Point Border Collie dog. Gabby is a pretty blue merle with a lot of white on her. Anyway, so when I left for the meat pick up it looked like the birth was pretty close, so after I was out all day I figured the birth would be over and everyone would be tired and I did not want Karen to think I was going to stalk her on all her puppy deliveries so I went home and watched the going ons on the web cam. I was surprised when I got home that there were no puppies, I kept watching and thinking the birth had to be any minute so I ended up staying up all night waiting for the pups, LOL. I did snooze off for a little bit here and there but mostly I kept saying I would give it 15 more min. then another and before I knew it, it was 5 am.

Talk about being a lucky duck, at 5 am Karen asked if I would like to see a csection. WOULD I???? Of course I would, so she said to meet her at the vets office. I threw on some clothes and raced out the door. I used to work in labor and delivery for YEARS, and also attended several home births as a helper (I was not delivering the babies just helping), so I am really interested in labor and delivery, and since I have not worked doing that in the last few years I really enjoy being a part of such things.

When I got to the vets we were brought back once the surgery had started. OMG, they got the uterus out and it was sitting on little Gabby's tummy and I have seen pictures but I had no idea it was so big. You could see the little shapes inside and those were some BIG puppies. Gabby had two pups on the way to the vets, and was still expecting five more puppies. The vet made the incision into the uterus and sort of squeezed out the little pups, one at a time. The pups came out with the placenta still around them and the sac still intact- the staff would grab each pup and take them to a table to stimulate them. I really learned a lot watching the staff stimulating the pups, you could tell the staff there was a well oiled machine and were very used to such situations.

The little pups were placed in a warmer once they were all awake and doing well, and they sewed Gabby up. Hard to believe with that big incision that they do not have to worry abut them biting on it and they can nurse right away and even the pups kneading and jumping all over it does not seem to bother it.

Next they brought Gabby who was still obviously pretty drugged and very tired from the long labor and all the pushing, and coming out of the anesthesia and shivering and shaking a lot. As soon as Gabby was a little more awake they brought in the puppies and she still looked pretty out of it but it was obvious right away that Gabby was going to be a great mother. She looked very much in love with her little pups right from the start and the pups were very vigorous, big and healthy looking and seemed to be very good nursers. The little family bonded instantly and this picture is one Karen shot just a few minutes after the family was put together.

The pups are adorable, very cute and flashy. I thought there are some very pretty blue merles, and there is a tri black split face female----OOOH I LOVE split face dogs so much-that is going to be a very cute dog. I got assign names to this litter-Karen had the names but gave me the honor of putting them to the pups. ;-)

Gabby & Mike had 7 puppies by cesarean section on July 25, 2009. To learn more about the pups and their parents visit and .

The theme for the names for this litter are terms/names associated with themoon landing anniversary.

Pup 1 Buzz - black tri male with black over both eyes .36 kg at birth
Pup 2 Moon - blue merle male black patch on rear and left leg .37 kg
Pup 3 Lunar - black tri female with white face & black dot on head .35 kg
Pup 4 Apollo - blue merle female with black dot on head .40 kg
Pup 5 Eagle - blue merle female with light and dark patches on left side .35 kg
Pup 6 Eclipse - black tri female split face left .39 kg
Pup 7 Orbit - blue merle female with black patch on right side .38 kg

So since the babes were born, poor Gabby does not seem to be making enough milk, so the pups are getting supplemented with goats milk from a goat that Karen got.

As I was leaving the ranch, Karen loaded me down with the bounty of the ranch. I had fresh squeezed orange juice from oranges Karen picked that morning, and she sent home a bunch of oranges, tomatoes, zucchini, egg plant, a ton of duck eggs and some goats milk home with me. Yesterday I made some yummy zucchini bread and am making some yogurt with the goats milk, and we have really been enjoying the tomatoes and corn, all that and getting to take part in the birth, how much better could that deal get?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Friday July 24, 09

On friday I was going to pick up meat from the co op, it was just me and Breeze in the car, it was a hot day so I deceided to head to the beach.

I forgot to say that one of the greatest things about going to watch the puppies being born was that I got to see Cherry. Cherry was with us for almost a year and it was so good to see her, she looked really good, and happy to see EVERYONE, so I am not sure if she was really happy to see me or she just loves everyone. Right before it was time to leave I was sitting on the couch with my legs curled out to the side of me and Cherry came curled up on my legs and laid down with her head on my thigh, just like she always used to do, I really do miss her she is such a nice doggie. I did get to take her down to do some agility and there were sheep along one of the fences, and Cherry has a really high herding instinct, but she chose to stay and play agility with me, she was doing awesome and really did not pay any attention to the sheep once we started playing.

My first puppy fix last wednesday/thursday

My one dog Breeze, the blue merle BC comes from Contact Point Border Collies, Cherry that was living here for awhile is also from there. Last week Karen, who owns CPBC was nice enough to let me come and help out (watch actually but we called it helping, LOL) while her dog Nel had her puppies. Nel came from the Netherlands last year and was bred to my Breezes half brother/littermate Zing. Humm, so guess Breeze would be these puppies Aunt? Anyway, Nel has been trialing in herding-she is a really pretty black tri color with pretty wavy hair toward her hips. A really nice dog, she has nice structure and an awesome temperment from what I have seen. I also met one of her pups from last year Bean at some trials recently and he is a really nice pup. Zing the dad trials in agility and is AWESOME. He is a gorgeous red/white, which is my favorite color of border collies. We knew this litter had very little chance of red/whites because both dogs must carry the red gene to have red pups and it was not that likely that Nel carries any red. Sooooo, back to the story. Nel was expecting at least 10 pups, so a huge litter for a little border collie, Nel is really not a very big dog. Last year Nel had a litter of 11 pups before she was imported to CPBC.

Karen let me know on Wednesday she thought Nel was getting close. Nel was chewing on the boards in the whelping box, and nesting and did look ready to have her pups. Another CPBC owner Laura was also coming down for the birth. So we both got to the ranch and spent most of the day watching Nel and visiting and waiting for the birth. About dinner time Russ made us the most awesome cheese/tomatoe grilled sandwhiches and Nel held off long enough for us to have dinner before things started to pop.

The first pup, which is the pup I have my eye on...... is named Ginny (and I named that one that name because I could actually keep that name, LOL), a big black/white female with a lot of flashy white markings, was born at 6:30 pm. Pups kept coming at pretty regular intervals until I think about 1:30 at which time there ended up 11 pups. 6 girls and 5 boys, a few black and whites and a bunch of black tri pups. There were some medium size pups and a couple of little puppers.

Nel was such a trooper, that was such a lot of puppies, and at one point there were like nine pups and they are wanting to nurse and Nel was having contractions....what a good girl, and that had to be such a long night for her, but she handled everything so well.

It was really neat to see how Karen handled all the deliveries, you can tell she has done a lot of deliveries and has a good feel for how things are going. Before the delivery I had enough time to read some newborn puppy care books Karen had, so I feel like I learned tons! It was actually a pretty uneventful delivery except for the number of puppies and all the puppies came out looking really good and healthy. It was awhile after the last pup until we could all get a quick nap, it takes awhile to get everyone nursing and settled in and make sure all the puppers and momma were doing ok. We talked about how many pups must be lost when the mom delivers in a barn, unattended. That would be sad ;-( .

This is from the puppy web came and Laura and I got to name the pups ;-)!

Nel had 11 puppies on the evening of 7/22/09 through the early morning of 7/23/09. Introducing the "Harry Potter litter".

Pup # 1 female b/w full white collar "Ginny"
Pup # 2 male blk tri - spot on head, full collar, white front legs "Lupin"
Pup # 3 female blk tri - narrow blaze and collar, white foot "Luna"
Pup # 4 male black tri - dark pup with blaze and lightning bolt on back of neck "Harry Potter"
Pup # 5 male b/w - lots of white, white head "Huffle puff"
Pup # 6 male blk tri - lots of black, white diamond on shoulder, 3/4 collar "Sirius"
Pup # 7 female b/w - lots of black, narrow 3/4 collar, 1/2 white muzzle "Hermione"
Pup # 8 female b/w - lots of white, spot on head "Hedwig"
Pup # 9 female b/w - lots of black, small white spot under tail, black spot on tummy "Fleur"
Pup # 10 male blk tri - 3/4 collar right side "Fang"
Pup # 11 female blk tri - lots of tan, tan on inside right elbow, 2 white front legs "Fluffy"

Character name description at

I was very grateful for Karen letting me come to the ranch and participate in such an exciting event. Things were so busy though after the pups started making their appearance that I was only able to get a picture that was not that good and after everything was pretty much finished, but it does show the new family.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


My youngest daughter really HATES that I feed my dogs raw food. She hates the ground meat, she is grossed out by the veggies?????, and she really hates when I feed fish, which was what was on the menu this evening. She always tells me that the dogs should be on kibble, and I tell her that there is the same things in kibble that the dogs are eating, they would still be eating chicken, and veggies and fish. So after the fish meal tonight she brought me in a paper to tell me why dogs should be eating kibble, LOL. She of courss says when she grows up and has her pomeranians they will definately eat kibble and she says she will find a good kibble, but it will be each his own.

I have had a really terrific week, and some GREAT experiences, and I will post about them tomorrow!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Lizzie and the sheep

I think the Liz had a very good border collie weekend. She got to pay n play agility on Saturday morning, followed by the beach and on Sunday morning she got to go herd the sheepies. My friend Carrie has been doing herding since last November and has been telling me I should take Liz because she thinks it will really help her, and it sure could not hurt. Liz was a little unsure of herself and not sure if it was OK to actually chase the sheep and it was not helpful that as soon as she really got going one of the sheep laid into her and got her good. The really funny thing is that when she would leave the sheep I would tell her, READY (her cue to get excited for agility) and she would whirl and go find the sheep and my marker word YES works for more then tricks, LOL. This was the first time she has ever been in a bigger field with the sheep. Deanna will not have classes for awhile because she is having her knee operated on, so......I think we will do a little herding with Liz in August, and work on our big list of things to train. I did make another video with the full herding session and I am really anxious to see how much difference I am sure there will be at the end of four lessons when Liz gets a little more confidence.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Pay/Play a trip to the Beach and Raw Feeding

I have been raw feeding for a few years now, and at World Team Tryouts I got to talking to Julie and Daneen who are HUGE raw feeding resources. Julie is so terrific and said she would hook me up with her raw feeding co op and make sure to bring down my dog food bills which would make a new puppy much more doable. It is really neat, they have three places they get food, so my base food has been some chicken backs they can get that ran 35 cents a pound this last pick up, I grind those and mix them with fruits and veggies. I give these great chicken leg 1/4's that run about .65 cents a pound and are almost all meat, or pork brisket with some soft bones in the evening. They get this great organ blend at 1.35 cents a pound, they get that once a week, and once a week they get some tripe and they get whole fish that run about 1.50/pound for sardines, and of course they get things like yogurt and eggs. It is terrific stuff and has cut my food bill down so much and the dogs are getting a better variety. In the morning their food is half and half meat and fruits and veggies.

This batch of food Alicia and I got together and picked up tons of fruits and veggies-spinach, green beans, parsley, bananas, berries, peaches, apricots, garlic, tons of carrots, mystery squash, sweet potatoes, just tons of good stuff. We had my food processor really working and surprisingly when we tasted the goop after we finished mixing it was actually pretty good, and the dogs kept sneaking into the bucket we were mixing it in, so guess they liked it too. For their deserts Alicia made some yummy pupsicles with yogurts and fruits, my dogs think they have died and went to heaven.

Anyway, thanks to Julie and Daneen I am finding it way easier to keep my dogs fed, and the price is really reasonable, and having Alicia to split cases with is helping so my freezer doesn't end up overflowing too bad.

Saturday we went to Happy Dog Agility and did their Pay and Play. Breeze did ok. Lizzie and Alicia's dog Hunda practiced some walk abouts, just walking them around the new area and clicking and treating for their checking in with us. Alicia showed me how to work with Liz in a smaller area and just do tricks while she sort of got desensitized to that area before I let her do any agility and that was really helping her keep her mind on agility when we did start our sequences, that was a good tip.

Next we went to the beach. I have to tell you that watching Lizzie on the beach is an experience that just makes me feel so good. Lizzie does the zoomies and runs off so she can not be off leash a lot for her safety. I do my best to find lots of areas she can be off leash and she is getting better but she is not trustworthy. On this particular beach though there is no where for her to go and she can be off leash. She runs around with a look of just pure joy and freedom. Liz loves to jump into the waves and she runs through the water, and I can truly say it is the most happy I have ever seen her. I love taking her to the beach.

There were almost no dogs on the beach so we could let all the dogs go at one time, Pickle, Lizzie, Breeze, Hunda and Moose all had a great time, and so did I. After the dogs got done at the beach we went to a great little fish and chips place for lunch where they were having a Pirate weekend. It was a very good day.

LAST THURSDAYS PRIVATE -Those converging lines crop up AGAIN

It has been a busy couple of days and I am a bit bummed AGAIN because I had thought my ultra great instructor was going to quit teaching the class but was going to stay around and I would still get to work with her even if it wasn't in the class, BUT then she broke the news she is really trying to move out of state. She came back for one lesson last Thursday and she just helped clear up so many things so quickly that we were having trouble with while she was gone and I remembered again how much I love working with her.

The really sad thing is that Alicia is a great friend and I will really miss having her around, I might gripe about losing my instructor but actually I will mostly really, really miss having a friend who is so much fun, who is interested in so many of the things I am interested in and someone who as a big added plus understands Lizzie and loves dog training. Not sure what I will do to continue our training because I am not feeling horribly confident that we are at the place we can work by ourselves and then go and arrange lessons with other people that can help us tune up, which would be the plan if we were a little further along, and of course I live out in the middle of nowhere so any of the good places to train are over 2-3 hours away and gosh that is not going to work really well to do when Bill goes back to work after the summer and I have to worry about kid care.

Maybe I will just take some time off and just do some herding or something, I just don't know. I want to at least complete what we have started with Breeze, but I am afraid this will be the end for Liz since there are so many places she just can not work yet. I will really miss her if she ends up going, so will not work out that way.

ANYWAY, back to the lesson, so one thing Alicia has really stressed is that I should not be running a lot of straight lines, they give the dog less information and I should be running U shaped lines, and V's and converging further along the path like in this exercise, I keep trying to converge at the first place Breeze's line where there is the first turn in her path, when I should be heading for and converging on her line much further down the path, right before the jump where I am going to again change her line to catch the opposite end of the tunnel from what she will see.

I posted a video because I want to remind myself of what to look for, so it is a bit long but will be helpful to me in the future if I ever get this whole thing into my head.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My Target dollar bin find

I FREELY admit I am a geek about a lot of things. I was so excited today because I was at Target in the dollar bin section and found these bright pink cones, and I thought they were so cute! Ten buck for twenty cones-I could not resist. Probably a really stupid purchase because I really like when I am teaching classes to be able to set up a couple of the courses before we start so things go faster(I already have some orange cones, and some yellow discs with numbers), BUT since I am losing my ultra cool instructor and my class of people I love because my instructor does not want to teach anymore...;-( (I am going through a big depression over this change of events, and can you imagine anyone NOT wanting to teach me? LOL!), so I probably wont be teaching or subbing they will look good in my back yard and maybe inspire me to set up more little sequences. This is my new tire, not a new frame but the new tire someone gave me and I taped up-I think it turned out pretty smart looking.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Chloe, my best little buddy can still have fun running with me...YIPPIE

Well, tonight was Deanna's class, and the topic was rear crosses and I got to run with my first little agility partner, Chloe. When I got ready to go I did not feel very good so I was about to just cancel, but I just decided to go because it always makes me feel better. Chloe the sheltie was not letting me out of the house without her and I had already decided to not take Lizzie because I just was not up to any huge challenges, LOL. Breeze was OK during the class, but of course we were working on the problems I knew we had, and when it was over I asked if I could run Chloe really quick before we put anything away. It was cool because it was almost ten at night and she was jazzed to finally have a turn and she was FANTASTIC. It felt so neat to run with her, she aced everything, she was running fast and gosh it was just like a terrific dance. I love my little Chloe and for so long when I ran her she did not seem that happy, and then it was hot and she hates the heat, and then it was messing up trying to learn to run Breeze because Chloe runs so differently, and then it messed up Chloe because I kept trying to run her like Breeeze, so we took a break and at that time it was not as fun to run her for a little while, and I was afraid we might never get the fun feeling running together back and that made me very sad for a long time..., but I think I was wrong about that after tonight. Maybe I will have to let her do a little more in the fall when it cools down, but what ever happens it sure made me feel good to be out there with my first partner, she is such a great dog.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

USDAA snookers, gamblers Breeze, City of Industry, CA

This was Breeze's first trial with any contacts so I was not sure how things would go. This was her first USDAA trial, and it was the first time either of us have run anything like gamblers or snookers together, and first time Breeze ran under this type of cover, and only our second trial on packed dirt, and I have to say this snookers course was a bear, not at all like I would think a starter snookers course should be. There were two combo jumps, and the angles were really hard and a lot of running. In addition to everything else it was a very hot day, but southern CA in the summer-who would have figured that?

We got to do our first gamblers run at 9 am, wow, how weird was that after doing AKC where we do not even get to check in until noon? That was great to run so early and helped with the stress level a LOT.
Gamblers gives you a certain amount of time for an opening and you can design your own course, you need to be by the first obstacle for the gamble when the whistle blows, so you can start your gamble. The gamble is the numbered end part of the course that you need to complete from behind a line.

So I had no clue how fast Breeze would run, and I did OK, my course I planned was to the teeter the second time. If I had gone there and to a jump like I had planned I might have got into better position, but the horn blew while I was on the Aframe a second time. I had a bucket load of points but Breeze got frustrated and was just totally handler focused, so I could see it was going to go no where and just tried to get her out of the ring. I have done so much work on teaching her to look at my body language that the fact she did not want to send out was not that big of a deal, but her being that handler focused was not so good. She did ok on her contacts for a first time and she was happy and so all in all I am very pleased.

The snookers course is a game where you take a red jump, then if you complete it successfully you can take any other obstacle, then you take a red jump, and can take another obstacle, take your third red and take another obstacle then you can start your closing which is a numbered course from obstacle 2-7. This particular course had a 6a and 6b, and a 7a and 7b, which meant you had to complete both of those things to count as one obstacle. Snookers makes you think on your feet because you design your own course but if you drop a red bar you have to run and find another red, and if you mess up you have to figure out where to go. This was a really hard course for a starters course. Anyway, Breeze held her start line stay and it was later in the day and I thought she was really tired and so I was suprised at how she shot off the line, LOL. Her poor Aframe contact had deteriorated pretty bad by the end,.....and we did really good through the opening, ...we made it through and then started our closing, we got to number 4 which was a jump we had to wrap and Breeze back jumped so we got whistled off the course. Anyway, we got through I had planned Breeze to go through the tunnel instead of the Aframe the first time, so when she went over the aframe I adjusted really quick to just start my closing.

All in all a GREAT day and I had a lot of fun. I GOT SO MUCH INFO this weekend and Breeze has really clued me in on where I need to train and what we need to keep working on and where we are going right, so how could someone complain about that? My training Buddy Denise actually came an hour and a half drive, and got to the trial at 7:30 to cheer me on, video and lend support. It was great and the whole day would have been so boring without her, she is always the best company. It really made me feel good she would do that for me.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

AKC Novice JWW Pomona, CA Dan Butcher judge, first and Q

OH I am SERIOUSLY BUMMED. I REALLY, REALLY wanted to look at our run today and see what was going on but the video did not come out. Oh well. I had an AKC trial today with Breeze and we ran clean, ....well, clean for AKC because they do not fault weaves...but...the weaves were the worst we have ever done, LOL. We still completed the course in 33 seconds and got first, the course time was 41 seconds, so we had a lot more time, but goodness I can not imagine how fast her time would have been if we had got it together-with the weaves I was not sure we had made time, but we were fine on that, thank heavens for fast dogs. Usually Breeze only misses the entrance when I am too close to it, so we have been working on that and I have never had to do anything other then take her back to the start of the weaves and start again ONCE. This time though, guess we broke that rule..there was a nice line for jump one, two, three, and then just a straight forward very easy entry to the weaves. Not an entrance with any crosses before it, or turns or anything like that. So first time I think she entered on pole 2-3, then I took her back and she entered correctly, popped out at 3-4, then I took her back and she entered on the wrong side, and then gosh just felt like a never ending set of weave poles. I was thinking I wonder how long I can do this before they whistle us off, and I also thought I have NEVER tried the weave poles more then 2x's. I think we did four. Aghghghg, and she has been doing so well this week. Anyway, we got them, and the rest of the run was gorgeous, without a hitch. I just wonder if I said anything while she was weaving. I have noticed she gets nervous around pole 3 wondering if she did it right and if I say nothing then she will pop out thinking she did something wrong, if I say YES too loud she will get excited and lose it and pop out. I was going to say Poles, during the weaves to reassure her and remind her and we worked on that the last few days, but I really do not know if I did that or not. I think I vaguely remember her just wanting to look at me the second time and that is why she missed that time and was not wanting to look at the poles, and the last time I got her out, got my witts and told her to sit to calm her brain (I do remember she did not sit, so I let her go and she got the weaves). The start line was pretty sketchy, I was trying to hurry out and let her go before she broke and I let her go before I was ready because I could tell she was going to go and I did not want to take her off or let her break, but on that course the timing of letting her go was not a big deal.

Anyway, got Lizzies AKC measuremtents done this weekend for AKC, so if she ever trials we are good to go and a first AKC measurement for Chloe, and guess this next week will hold some weave pole work.

I am a bit concerned because tomorrow is USDAA, and PI which is Breeze's level since this is her first USDAA trial, she has twelve weaves, and when we did not do six...we might be in some serious deep Kimshee. They are predicting a warmer day tomorrow and it was pretty hot today, over 100 degrees, so hopefully we will not melt and hopefully I will remember Snookers and Gamblers rules, yikes!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Tweaking the training plan for Liz and evaluating what seems to be working....

I went to a trial today to help a friend walk the course and be a cheerleader. I deceided to bring the Lizard. WOW, as hard as a few weeks ago were with her, that is about as easy as she has been the last week. It started Monday when Liz was such a good girl and was able to complete the full agility class and did not do any zoomies, a first for the little Liz. That was followed by a couple of evenings of really great practices and today she was a little angel at the trial. She sat quietly in her crate, walked very nicely around the trial area and was able to do all her tricks and was generally a model dog.

ON the way home we stopped by the Bass Pro Shop, not a place I usually go but they had a chair that I wanted. It was really hot and I did not realize they allow dogs, who knew??? So I thought I am just going to bring her in and try to be quiet and I will just leave if they call me on it. As we got out of the car Lizzie was pulling like a frieght train and generally looking like wild animal, so I was concerned....but I deceided to not panic...take a deep breath and we started doing our premack. I made her do a couple of tricks, released her to sniff the plants she was so interested in, got her to do a couple more tricks, again released her to sniff, then got a few more tricks and released her and she no longer even wanted to sniff. I used my "what would Leslie McDevitt do?" question to myself and stopped at two or three points on the way in the store and made sure we were a connected unit and working together. I had a bunch of treats and I was encouraging C A L M.
WELL, we went over a lot of surfaces, it is a huge store, there is a two story fish tank with HUGE fish, a stream going through the store with fish and a bunch of stuffed animals (like stuffed game animals, which always makes me sad...), a glass elevator and two flights of wooden stairs that are a little slick. Liz walked like a companion dog, did a down stay while I looked at the chair and was friendly to all the other customers but did not jump all over them. As we were going to the check-out three employees came over to look at her because they said they could not believe how well behaved she was and all her tricks. WOW, that does not happen often. I put her in a stay as I was paying and the clerk asked if he could pet her, I said SURE, released her and told her she could put her front feet on the counter, she jumped up, let him pet her and then offered her paw to shake hands with him. Wow, it is a new feeling to have people looking at me with my dog and thinking that I am a lucky duck and I have a great dog.

Usually they all look at us but it is with some dismay like how could a dog actually be that wild? LOL, but that was not the look I got today and I have to say I like the way they looked today much better.


Soooo, I have given up thinking that what I do is fully responsable for how Lizzie is all the time, sometimes she just is who she is. Sometimes I do all the right things and she is aweful and sometimes I do all the wrong things and she is wonderful. I have been doing some things with her that I have to think are helping.

1. One thing is that I am really trying to do a lot more of the premack training. When Liz really wants something and can not think and is super distracted, I am stopping myself and making her do a few things and her reward is doing what she wants. After we worked so hard with that plan with the gophers, she is really seeming to understand that and it works really quickly now. I am so impressed with that, see I impress myself, LOL.

2. I have really been trying to remember to use the Control Unleashed principle of not going into the "ring", (or store, or agility yard, or what ever...) without conecting and making sure I have a dog with me and not just a dog body, (a functioning dog with a mind), LOL. I have been using tricks which seem to calm her and she loves, and they are cute, it has been working great.

3. I have really been thinking about something I read from Leslie McDevitt, or maybe it was on her DVD.... anyway, she was talking about how it is not comfortable physically to stay in a state of high arousal and I think a lot of times dogs like Lizzie do not know there is another choice and they default to that high arousal state to any stimuli. Well, I have been trying to help her learn she can react otherwise. Soooo... like in the house she will go into HYPEREXCITEMENT, like way over the top if the door bell rings or one of the kids friends come over, so now I will tell her "go to your crate". Can you believe in that state if I get her down just a little she will totally on her own turn and find her way to the crate. I make her sit there for a minute until she is calmer then I give her the Break command to release her. Sometimes we go through this little ritual a few times and when she is able to sit and calmly look then she is allowed to sit and watch the excitement of the door being open-as long as she can stay calm. I do this when she wants to look out the window at the other dogs playing, or when she wants to stare at the cat, she is getting pretty good at that.

4. A training buddy-Denise-asked if I had read Shaping Success by Susan Garrett, and of course I have, it was what got me through Lizzies first year. When she asked me that I looked at it again and OMG, I found a sobering part of the book. Susan was talking about her Buzz and how once she was trialing him and he was dropping bars, she would take him out of the ring and took him out more then 21 times I think she said. She realized her reinforcement for him had dropped to a very low percentage and she thought he was fine because he still ran fast, he was still wild and he still barked and was willing to work with her. When she realized that Buzz really LOVED contacts and did great with those, which were still highly rewarded she stopped jump training and just did contacts to get his rate of reinforcement up. With no further jump work the next time she trialed him, wha laaa, it was all fixed. IT HIT ME, OMG, when I have been working with Liz I think I have gotten lax and figured she was handling working through things more and I was letting her struggle more. Not sure Liz is a dog that really handles that, because she does not show stress in the way I am used to but....thinking back think she has been having more trouble and I think that is why she is being so steller with her contacts, and things she knows how to do, like if I say find the tire, she does, but when it comes to running sequences she gets a lot more stressed/wild. Not totally sure that is the whole answer, but something I am becoming aware of again and I am setting up her sessions to insure her success a little more, she is not Breeze.

Anyway, just some things in my training plan that have been undergoing some tweaking and I am sure we will be having a back sliding soon....but gosh little Lizzie is doing very well the last week and I am enjoying our little step forward.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

just a little practice session before the big trial this weekend for Breeze...

Check out my new tire on my tire jump. I was given the really nice tire a few weeks ago, and I got it all taped up and pretty and hung on my tire jump. I love my tire jump now!

I have not posted many of our practice videos, I have not had any lessons with Alicia and have been doing some lessons here in town, but those start at 7:30pm and run until like 10pm, so it is impossible to get video there, so I decided to post a little video because I like to have it for me to look back on when we will be perfect in a couple of months, then I can remember where we came from, LOL!!!!!Lizzie did pretty good in practice, I had to break down the first part of the sequence because she wanted to go around the tire, then she just was having trouble sticking her contact really well, but she was trying and she understands now, then I did not get it on video -but I had to break down with a toy coming out of the tunnel and finding the jump-coming to my side. It did not help that she reads my body really well and if I pull off the tunnel even a split second too soon and am moving laterally, then she thinks she is supposed to pull off the tunnel and come with me and of course collection after a jump is not her favorite thing-to put it mildly, LOL, but we both got it pretty quick. She really is such a good girl and really tries so hard, but check out how fast she can turn herself off and sit and hold a great stay. I think so far the sit at the start line is working better for her then the down was lately, I might try a stand too, she might like that, but right now the sit seems to be doing the trick, less chance for her nose to distract her little mind, she is pretty solid in a sit stay.

Breeze had been doing terrific on her stays and her contacts. I am not sure what has happened to the contacts, except we have been working a LOT on the dog walk and doing the 2020 there. Breeze has been doing a 4 on the floor, a crooked 4 on the floor but it has been really solid,not the prettiest thing but solid. I have been working on the Aframe and exercises to build her back end thinking that might be some of the reason she sort of just falls down the aframe and I have been trying to make sure her weight is shifted back, so maybe that is a fall out of that???? Anyway, Breeze has a lot of runs this weekend, an AKC JWW, and a USDAA gamblers and snookers (and has only done JWW in trials so far, or tunnelers, I am a bit concerned after our practice tonight!!!!)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A revised timeline for the Lizard

When I got this cute little split faced, curly coated border collie, Lizzie...I had really high hopes, dreams, aspirations. I knew that day that we were meant to be together, and for good and bad we were going to be a team. So as the first few weeks came and went and we were getting to know each other and after a few months she started showing some of her future personality, I was a little concerned. Not to worry, she was just a baby and her total over zealous lust for life and never ending energy, that was just because she was a baby, RIGHT???? Please.... We did lots and lots more training and work on self control, I worked on making myself the funnest thing on earth, I spent lots of time, and some things were looking marvelous, but there was always this underlying total disconnect of the brain when Liz got excited.

When we hit a year, Liz got amazing at doing tricks, she could figure out anything, and surely she was just at the height of her adolescence, and any day she would be totally reliable. At that point I only dreamed of her being safe one day, surely soon she was called so I would not have to always worry about her getting out and going over the top with excitement and being three counties away before she could even hear someone calling her. That was my HUGE fear at this time. At that time people said she will mature. We enrolled in more obedience, a couple of recall classes-three whole series on the totally reliable recall and we did a lot of homework. At about this time we went to an agility instructor that really wanted to do lessons with Breeze, told me Liz and I had no relationship at all and the dog had no connection to me, this after a few minutes watching Liz in her total whoo hooo state after going to a new location-at that point she could truly not think. She made it clear that Liz was not allowed back. I was devistated but I tried to tell myself I knew the bond with me and Liz was stronger then any other bond I had known, and so what if this yahoo did not see it? Besides she was going to mature, right???

At the two year mark, not a lot had changed, Liz did lots more behaviors, she didn't get into everything in the house, but she still could not attend an agility class. But everyone said the magic mark is three years......PLEASE let that be!

Last summer at 2 1/2 OVERNIGHT things changed and Liz matured. Not to where I wanted her, not to where she could do what I had dreamed when I got her, not to where she could consistantly do a class, but to where she could function most of the times in a private lesson in a familiar environment and to where she could sometimes...function for a few minutes in a class in a familiar environment, but hey we had until 3 when she would fully mature, right???

So recently this spring we hit the three year mark. I love Lizzie more then anyone can know. If I want to have fun shaping and working with a dog, I always go to Lizzie first. Lizzie learns any tricks in a snap. Lizzie has a terrific recall when she has a head and well, she knows more then any other dog I have ever had. Still at 3, she can do a class, sometimes, she can work in an unfamiliar place, a little, sometimes, she can work for a little longer time, occassionally, but I do not worry about her getting lost, about her going over the top and running three counties before she stops and notices she is lost. She is very reliable in the house and doesnt tear up the bathroom, or get onto the counters or into the fridge like she used to do. Actually a wonderful dog to be around. She sleeps above my head on the pillow every night and I reach up and give her a pat and feel nice feeling her when I wake up at night. She really is my best friend, but I was facing that it might be time to give up on the idea of her doing what I got her for, agility, even though she is the fastest dog, she is built terrific, she loves it, but you have to be able to trust your dog can stay on course and well, that does not always happen. But maybe time to accept what is,....after all she is 3.

So last night there was a new ray of hope and a bunch of people were telling me that hey, lots of dogs mature and get it together at FOUR!!!! YES, some ray of hope!!! I am going to buy it!!! That ray of hope along with her amazing performance last night, maybe we will really actually make it, some day.....As long as she enjoys it, I will just have to keep trying. People might hear our story or watch us run and think I am a rotten trainer to not have this dog doing agility and trialing, but hey they do not have a dog like her and they have not seen what we have gone through, so let them think what they want. I guess if it never happens, that is ok too, maybe if she had turned out to be the agility dog I wanted and went out to buy, maybe she would not have been the amazing friend I found.

Deanna's class, Lizzie gets a gold star for her performance

Last night was Deanna's class and no video because it is a night class and so video just doesn't work! LIZZIE DID THE ENTIRE CLASS, and ACTUALLY looked like a dog that might actually be doing agility, not just a bad imposter. YIPPIE!!! So one thing is that Lizzie is not a dog that you get all riled up and in some wild drive before you go out, she does that on her own. She did so good in her start line stays, who would think a dog that looks like she has so little impulse control does her best work with the contacts and start line stays??? She does great in control work, it is just when she feels she is off on her own and floating out that she loses it. A girl who is in the class and has always been giving me a hard time for not trialing with Liz and has never seemed to understand why I have any trouble with her has watched her the last two weeks and came up to me and said, "WOW, I had thought I have seen high drive, wild dogs, and wild border collies, but I have never seen any dog like Lizzie", hahahahahahhahahahah, OMG, ya know if you did not experience the Liz, no one could believe the Liz. I always try to remember when we run it is not gorgeous, but there are not many that could have gotten as far as we have, so when I get discouraged....I do know I have worked fifty times harder and more with Liz then I have with Breeze, or Chloe and would not be able to tell by looking. So Liz and Breeze are opposite.

Breeze had trouble in this course with the weave entries-esp 10 on the light and dark circles. If I tap the break a little then she whirls around and starts yelling at me, if I run full fource then she blazes past the first pole and catches the poles about the second or third opening. Now Breeze is having difficulty because she stops about the third to fourth pole and looks back to see if she is right, whoops....if I say YES too loud or animated she gets all hyper and just loses it all and the weaves are history, if I say YES in a very soft tone at just the right time I can get some beautiful weaves, so we are going to have to work on that. Liz how ever had gorgeous weaves and just would occassionally pop out between pole 11 and 12.

Then in the light circles the start of the course, boy that is where there was a huge difference in the dogs. It was hard running both one right after another, first there is a lot of running....YIKES then Breeze will not hold her stay for a very long lead out and if I can get her too she would not read the number 2 double jump, she would sail around it, and if I stayed to make sure she saw that, then I was way further back, so I had to do a rear cross before 4, where with Liz I could move way further out and had no trouble getting a front cross between 3 and 4, which was just much nicer feeling. Then when we did the dark circles in the 4-5-6 section, Breeze has a fantastic tunnel send, so I could easily do a front cross between 5 and 6, then push out a little to get the weave line after 6 and it was a slick little bit of course for Breeze. Liz who coming off the teeter (WE SUBSTITUTED THE TEETER FOR THE AFRAME) gets all weird and doesnt want to drive out too far ahead,.....her I had to just stay with her on my left side out of the tunnel and do a rear cross before six, and still push her out a lot so she caught the right side of the poles for the entry.

I also figured out last night that I practice all sorts of weave entries but not with all the movement and forces of a real course like this, so we had a lot more trouble with entries then I would have thought considering we have worked with them so much lately.

That dark circle 11 to 12 amazed me because I was able to get there and do a backy uppy move and I thought that would work so well if I could get there, but I did not think I could especially with Liz because she was running fast last night....and Liz is usually not really good to put it mildly about decelerations, but we nailed that each time with both dogs, YES!!! Nothing like the feeling of actually being able to get somewhere where you did not think you could get to.

Anyway, all in all I learned a lot in class, and it was super hard running both dogs, but I do think that helped me really see the differences and figure some things out about both dogs.

I was so proud that Lizzie ran both of these courses TWICE, so a total of four courses and did not run off once. I do think I am going to switch to Lizzie sitting at the start in her stay, when she is in a down she starts sniffing, sniff, sniff, sniff, and then her little brain follows the sniff and it is a lot scarier watching her because I can see her disconnecting, so not sure that is always true, but I sure noticed it the past week, so might work with a sit and see how that goes.