Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Liz herding, second lesson with Robin

WOOOO HOOOO!!!! Lizzie went for her second lesson with the new herding instructor today. WOW, a big difference from the first lesson. Lizzie had been instinct tested several times, and had some lessons with an instructor when she was younger and she always seemed happy and confident doing herding. Then I started with an instructor and had a series of lessons with him and all of a sudden she did not want to stay with the sheep, she looked confused and not very happy. I knew that was not what I was taking Lizzie herding for....so I went to an instructor I had heard some great things about, a lot more expensive and a lot longer drive and she is always booked up and I can not seem to figure out when the schedule comes out so I can snag some of the good spots....but even with all that this lady is really turning out to be well worth the extra effort-and hopefully I will get it all figured out soon.

The new instructors name is Robin and she has explained many times that how she wants to teach is to not use any coercion or force, but to let the dog work out what they can do and to let the dog think. She also explained that is why she is not worried that it is a little longer between lessons because when a dog figures out something for themselves they are not going to forget it. That whole philosophy is what I have seen with clicker training and shaping, so it is an approach that Liz likes and is used to. I can see the stress around the sheep herding lifting as Robin lets her figure out what she needs to do, and she is really enjoying things again, so that makes me really happy. Robin just seems so good about reading Liz, good about making sure there are easy sheep that help build Liz confidence, and getting her to work a little past the point where Liz would like to quit trying to think-which is tiring for her-but not so long that she is fried and just quits.

So the things I notice that are much better this lesson where
#1. Liz is able to work longer and is not wanting to give up and go sit in the corner, and when she did leave a few times and think about sitting down most of the time she came right back, I think there were only two times when she really felt she needed to lay down and think about things-then she ran in and chased the sheep-but she was not quitting.

#2. Robin was actually able to change her direction and Liz was understanding when Robin would say "there, there" she would stop trying to circle and figured out that meant to just start heading forward, she was actually using some balance behind the sheep and staying behind them moving them forward nicely a few times. No one up to now have been able to get Liz to comfortably change her direction and go left and right, she was always going to the left I think, but it was really hard in the past to get her to go to the right.

#3. Liz has been afraid to look at the sheep, it was pretty funny last lesson because she was always staring at them out of the corner of her eye and trying not to let them see her look at them, she was working HARD to not look like she was looking at them. Robin explained that she did not know her own power or how to use it so she was afraid if she looked at them they would take off so she felt she had to not look or she would lose them. She was using total avoidance the first lesson. Today she was experimenting with looking at them and I could really see her trying different levels of pressure and power to try to move the sheep, that was neat to watch.

MOST OF ALL today I saw her really thinking and Liz is happiest when she is really using her brain, I could tell it was really wearing her out but she was happy, so that made me happy.

One of the cutest things today was a litter of Cardigan Corgi pups that were there in the lesson before mine, oooh my gosh those are the cutest puppies and seeing those tiny little pups with the sheep....very cute.

After the herding we stopped and saw Karen from Contact Points- Puppies. Is there anything cuter then a puppy and this was the Nel/Zing litter, so dad is a half brother of my Breeze, and the mom is the coolest dog ever Nel....so I was really wishing that I had went ahead and got one of those pups when my favorites were still available, all the pups that were there now have been promised except one of the cutest little boys.....he is a bit shier but I would love to see how he would be after a few days away from the litter. Cherry was there and that was the first time the kids have seen her since she left, so my youngest was really happy to see her. She wanted to bring Cherry AND a pup home, LOL.

After the pup adventure we stopped at a really terrific restaurant for some Mexican food, and then hit the beach. Breeze loves the beach more and more every time we go. Now as soon as we get there I let her go and she runs into the waves, LOL, she gets way out in the water and then turns and waits for me to throw something. Breeze is so much fun because I can let her go off leash and never worry about her heading for the road or leaving. Liz did GREAT, she has to be on a long time but I never had to grab it and it never went tight, she was having so much fun with the waves, and maybe she was tired enough after herding that she was the perfect girl.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Being a mom of tweeners

I was at Target yesterday with my girls, we were just walking around shopping. I saw a mom with two little girls in one of those huge carts made for the kids and she was trying to keep the younger one happy and occupied, the older little girl was helping her mom/sister and talking to the younger one too. A few minutes later my girls were both walking several steps ahead of me and quietly putting their heads together and whispering, they are very cute together. It hit me how many times now days my girls have their own little conversations and their own little world and not that we are not close, but ......things have sure changed from the days they would fight to be the one that was closest to me and could hold my hand and they were always vying to get my attention and to talk to me. I was the center of their lives. Now I have done a good job and my kids are just starting to really create their own lives and that is very happy and makes me very proud but also once in awhile I miss the whole intense closeness a mom has with babies and little tiny children. Another passage in life is in the making ;-).

On the other hand there are times when I can run out to the store and leave the kids home alone for a few minutes, or when my daughter makes dinner or when I got to go and watch Karen's pups being born and was able to go off for a few days and leave the girls with their dad, that is when I really do on the whole enjoy this new stage of motherhood too.

My doggies still look at me like I am a God, LOL, maybe that has something to do with why I enjoy my dogs so much, they do fill a place in my life, ;-).

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Nancy Walkers Editorial - The Finger of Blame

I absolutely LOVED the editorial in Clean Run Magazine this month-September 2009. The editorial was written by Nancy Walker who is now a new hero of mine. I have not felt the way I felt when I read that article since Lizzie was a baby and I picked up a copy of Shaping for Success by Susan Garrett. WARNING: of course we all know this is going to lead to my favorite rant in dog training.....LOL,.....so proceed at your own risk!

Lizzie is a dog that is a very high drive border collie. I also firmly believe she just processes information a little wacky at times. She has terrific self control and I have worked on that and her recalls non stop since day 1. I have raised dogs that turn out to be wonderful dogs, so I can do it,....REALLY I CAN! I have been way more consistent with Liz, taken a lot more time and thought with my training plans with Liz, and got the help of a lot more people, and I have stuck to it way longer then I have with any other dog, and yet....she is still a dog that is not able to trial in an unfenced field because she might get the zoomies and take off. Now do not get me wrong, she is also the best trained dog I have ever had, and given how high energy she is I have taught her amazing things and the self control she can show is amazing, and really I truly believe I had accomplished a lot and I am proud of myself for sticking with it and I do think I have reaped the rewards of that, although I do not think people looking in always see the progress I see ;-).

So what does that have to do with Susan G's book or the article? Well, Susan G became my new hero when I opened her book and read how she had to take her high drive red bc puppy (hummm, another over the top red/white bc, wonder if that is a coincidence?) and work with him for several class sessions before she could get him in the building because he was screaming and crying. She had me hooked with the book because here was someone else who understood what it feels like to feel people judge you as a bad trainer because your dog is acting like an idiot even though I was doing all the right things and using way more skills and working way harder then I worked with my "good" dogs, LOL. One of my worst days came when I took a private with an agility instructor that watched my dog go on a zoomie run the first time she was in her yard, and she pronounced that the dog had no bond with me and there was nothing that could be done for this dog and I had better go home and try to find a way to connect with this dog. I LOVED THIS DOG, and had already been working so hard with her. From the article "It is very difficult to go in the ring over and over again hoping that this time it will be different, and it will be the one time everything does work out. But then to have someone tell you you are to blame-that if you were a better trainer your dog could do better as well-can be crushing" It adds nothing to this conversation but I recently saw this instructor at a seminar with a new dog that zoomed around the field and she could not get ahold of her, I felt a kinship with her at that moment but I also hoped she now understood that not all dogs respond in the same way to the same training.

So the article says "I realized that while agility is a wonderful sport, it can also be a culture of blame. People are so quick to say a dog does what he does because the handler does or does not take a specific action. If there is a problem the handler is to blame." Not to discount being consistent, or good training or anything like that but from the outside not many of us know the trials or tribulations this particular handler/dog team have dealt with or where they started out.

So at the end of the article Nancy goes on to say "Dogs are very complex and if you are fortunate to have a dog that progresses happily through the agility levels, you are very lucky indeed. But try not to put too much blame on those of us who have dogs with various degrees of trouble. These dogs may not yet have reached their athletic potential but they are no less loved and well-trained." Wow, well said i think.

Another quote from the article sums it up "I understand the frustration and utter dedication needed to make the situation work. We love our dogs and train every bit as hard if not harder to overcome out dog's problems. Believe it or not, these dogs make up better trainers in the end." YEA!!! (of course there were days in our harder times when Liz was younger and people would say this will make me a better trainer that people were playing with their lives by uttering those words to me!)

It is funny because I think this little editorial must have brought out the frustrations of a lot of people because any agility venues I have went to in the last week or two I have heard people talking about this editorial. I think there are a lot of us hiding out there with all sorts of issues we might be doing a bang up job of working through but sometimes no matter how hard we work, how smart we work and how good a trainers we are....it does take time to really change some things, so I for one am going to try to be way less judgemental when I see other dog handler teams, and hope you all feel the same way when you see Liz and I out there having a party because we get over 4 jumps in a trial, LOL!!!!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Happy Birthday Baby, it is Breeze's 3rd birthday!

Today is Breeze's birthday...
We spent the first year with all the puppy things and I was a bit overwhelmed with having two border collie puppies, and poor Breeze got pushed to the back burner a lot because she was ....easy.

The next year we spent with physical issues, one right after another. The great thing was that during that rehab process I learned a ton and Breeze and I really jelled and learned how to work with each other better. I loved her before but going through everything we bonded so much more because I would feel so bad for her and we were both working together.

Now things are settling down and Breeze is just so much fun, she is good at everything I want to do, she is good at herding, she is a great agility dog, she is a great cuddler, she is just terrific and finally her and I are just at the stage that we can just have fun together. I am so glad she is my dog.

Humm....which toy to choose, make sure I look way in the back just in case....

yep, let's try this one!

Give it the old play test and see if it is as good as it looks.

YEP, this is it, lets get it to the checkstand so they can give me some treats!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Our Practice Sept 20,09 with Breeze

I uploaded a video of our practice today....nothing exciting but I have not posted any of our practices recently....maybe because we have not done as much? LOL. But, see we really still do agility once in awhile, hahahahaha. I was having trouble with the timing of the moving front cross, I was wanting to do it a bit late, which.....is not good for a dog that jumps long and fast, but we were getting it. I also am not that confident with the shallow rear crosses, and that shows....that is why I do all the arm action, so I need to settle down and trust my smart little Breeze, she is doing it really well, surprising me for sure. Breezes start line stay and her weaves are looking....simply marvelous if I do say so myself. One of my things I have been working on is my timing of throwing the reward and the first few times it sucked...but toward the end I was doing much better, sometimes especially after the weaves I am afraid of making her pop out because it has happened in the past, but once again....I need to trust my puppy!

DEFINATELY: I always put my toy in by pant waist band in the back and Breeze gets her ball all wet with slobber then it rolls in the dirt then I have to stick it into my waist band again...., oooh my gosh I am crusted with dirt down my pants after every practice, and as I sit here writing this I am reminded by the scratchy dirt that seems to be everywhere.....agility is much nicer in the grass, LOL

Thursday, September 17, 2009

New Contact Method/ tail on-four feet off

I read Diana's comment to my contact training and I could not quit laughing. I am officially renaming my contacts to be To/4O-tail on and four feet off. Ya have to admit we are getting closer....an inch closer at a time to a real contact, LOL.

What I need to do is to perfect my To/40 contact and then make a video, it could be the next new trend!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Contact progress, always a work in progress

So I was a bit bummed and have been the last few days, just feeling a bit depressed but I made myself get up off the computer and go outside and work with my dog,...Just what the doctor ordered!!! I always feel better after that.

I thought I would just post a video of how the contact retraining is going for Breeze. Originally both of the dogs, Lizzie and Breeze were trained to do the 4 on the floor contacts, or modified running contacts. I used Ann Crofts methods but I did it BEFORE she published her revisions, so I had some of the problems with those contacts that people predicted I would. Liz could do the Aframe in two strides, she hit once at the top of the yellow on the upside, she leaped over the apex and hit above the yellow on the downside and then jumped/fell into a gorgeous 4 on the floor position, LOL, leave it to Liz. So obviously this was not going to work for her and she was going to kill herself, so it took forever to retrain her to a 2020 on both contact obstacles, but she is doing killer contacts now.

Breeze was doing well with the 4 on the floor,she has more self control and is not as much of a dare devil, which is nice....She did partially tear her ACL on the dog walk and she was hurting herself repeatedly, so I had to do lots of rear end awareness things, lots of games on the dog walk, lots of exercises and I FINALLY feel safe having her on the dog walk. She is doing well, but I decided to do a 2020 because I felt that would slow her down a bit on the end, have her focus a little more on the end and the little slow down and thinking could possibly keep her safer. She LOVES the 2020 but when she gets excited, I do not know if she is just not thinking about stopping early enough, because she is getting closer and closer to the end....or if it is hard with her hips to stop herself or she just needs more experience to learn how to control that body and speed. I think she is just not prepairing herself in time and is not predicting the stop early enough, which just means more practice. Anyway, it is not doing too bad and if I really can not get a nice 2020 I think she will at least do the 4 on the floor and I do have a plan B, so I feel good about the whole thing.

As for the Aframe, Breeze was going up and over the Aframe and doing a 4 on the floor but it was weird looking with her laying sideways parallel to the end of the aframe. I figured, hey, it isn't pretty but it is working so I left it like that. She was stopping and striding nicely down the Aframe and people might laugh, but what the heck? The last few weeks that deteriorated and she is barely striding through the yellow, and I think with the criteria where she is sideways it is just too easy for her to barrel down the Aframe and make her contact without having to stride through the yellow. I really worry about her hurting herself, so I have went back to the new training steps Ann Croft outlined in Clean run and using some stride regulators. Up until now she has had trouble controlling her speed on the way down so she could get a straight down at the bottom, but she is doing it now!!!! I am pretty happy about that. One thing that is working really well for us is placing a toy several feet in front of her, that is working so much better then when I was just using a jump to release her too, so now that is working so well, I will think about releasing her to a jump and then a toy, but right now it is keeping her attention forward and off me.

So it is not a finished product...but, I think she is really getting the idea. Doing these retraining when a dog has already really learned one behavior and I try to change it is HARD!!!

MY NEXT DOG, I am going to think about all this stuff and train it exactly like I would like to start with, that is so much easier,....but I have learned a lot, so...can not complain about that.

Of course as I pulled out the bumpers the words of Breezes dads person rang in my ears...LOL,....when I was first training the 4 on the floor Tracy predicted I was going to be hauling out all sorts of equipment and props, LOL, so yep, guess she was right, glad she does not read my blog to know I am admitting that, LOL, but actually I would tell her that and I probably will because she will probably get a good laugh out of that.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The big freezer, who knew what was in there???

How do these things happen? I used to be so organized and somehow over the years my brains have gone to mush, or maybe I just lost my organizational abilities. I now am going to have to drive to get the meat for the doggies meals, and I map quested the distance last night and it is going to take me about two hours to get to the "source" of the meat at great prices, which was not a happy thing to find out, and the trip will take me through Burbank and LA, so not a trip I am excited about taking.

ANYWAY, so I deceided that I had to go through my big chest freezer and use everything I can to make sure I have lots of room before I make the big trek, number one because it is good to get the older stuff used and then I can plan on really picking up a load that will last awhile and make the trip worth it.

I really thought I was pretty much out of food and I can not believe the bounty of great foods I found, so the dogs are really going to get some variety this week!!! Tonight they are looking forward to Cornish Game Hens....Breeze is sitting and licking her lips as I speak. Breeze is a girl that likes her food. The point is how did I have this much food that I was not finding???? I have got to get back to organizing this all better. There is an amazing variety of food just hiding in between the icicles.

More cancelled agility lessons, this week poor Alicia is sick, so I have really only had one full lesson in the last month or two between torn pads, muscle pulls, fires, illnesses, LOL, yikes, good thing I have equipment in my back yard. I am going to have to look really hard to find some show n go's or something get where I feel ready to put Breeze in a trial, she was almost ready to start in standard runs when all training seemed to grind to a hault, but I really need to do a little more training with the contacts before it would be smart to try them out in competition. Signs ups are about to start in a few days for the classes here in town and there are always some nice courses laid out so I am looking forward to that.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thursday Practice

I had a great practice tonight. No video since we were practicing after dark and the lighting was not great for video. I met with a friend and we set up the courses from Clean Runs BackYard Dog exercises. The courses had some killer weave pole entries, or maybe I will say Killer entries because we had some trouble with them. There were a lot of rear crosses and tight entrances and the rear cross entries into the weaves are going to stay on our list of things to work on a bit more....

The dogs have not done any agility except some clicker stuff in the house for about a month I guess....Liz has had some soft tissue injuries so I have kept work light and Breeze had a torn pad that was really nasty and then had some stomach upset and then there were the fires and the air was horrible and classes got cancelled. I had thought we might be really rusty but OMG, the dogs were so excited and fast tonight, and still able to think.

Breeze has come up with a new behavior the last few practices. Breeze LOVES agility so much now, and when she has any hint that it is her turn to leave the field and her runs are over...she runs way far away from me and lays down and as weird as it sounds loses her hearing. She really seems to hear nothing, especially not me calling her to come and leave the yard. She happily enjoys her deafness laying on the grass and chewing her toy. She totally looks like a beat dog as I take her out to the car and put her in her crate, sad times for sure. She was looking so awesome during her run, since we have had so little practice I was surprised. I swear she was a lot faster then she usually is, I think she felt good tonight. When I run Breeze she is so easy and so fun I always remember why I love doing agility.

Liz was awesome, she really is driving ahead better and listening and she was so wild and wanted to play so much that she found these new, wonderful toys all over the agility course. As she was running she would grab the cones. Yep she did not even break stride and kept on going with her treasures. What a talented girl. I did not even see her grab the cone outside the tunnel but when number 4 was no where to be found....it was in the middle of the tunnel. I finally got her to leave the cones alone and thought I had that licked when the next weave pole entrance had a lovely mushroom toy growing right before Liz entered the weaves. Of course Liz knows we do not skip agility obstacles to get toys, she just bent her head down, grabbed the mushroom and caught her entry at the same speed she had been going. I have to once again say that Liz is really a special girl. My runs with her are rarely really pretty, but she is fast and she will put a smile on my face, so who says we do not meet our goals?


The only bad part of our practice was that the field is in a little tiny town and there is no one around at night, it is dark and a little spookey, it is really quiet and there are a lot of trees and shadows, and tonight someone pulled up in a van and was watching a L O N G time, which just felt a little creepy. My friends dog Kodi kept staring out into the darkness...of course my dogs are not good watch dogs because there is agility, as long as they could stay and play they would let me be kidnapped or killed, just don't take the tunnel please...then a car sat in the parking lot, which never happens-but it did tonight, and then of course I was a little freaked and heard all sorts of rustling, whoooooo hooooooo, yep my imagination was going wild and I knew it was time to scadaddle before any scary things got us. Who says I do not have an imagination?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Karen Pryor's book-Reaching the Animal Mind

I borrowed Reaching the Animal Mind from a friend over the weekend and could not put it down. This is a book by Karen Pryor who has worked training dolphins, and has also worked with elephants, gorillas, fish, cats, chickens, octopus, many other animals and people. To tell you what I really found inspiriting about the book I would like to quote a paragraph from the chapter on Fear on page 139.

Fear is a part of life in general, I suppose. Certainly it has evolutionary value; we are right to avoid what we fear. It's probably useful that all of us, no doubt down to the hermit crabs and below, can apparently learn to recognize what we should be afraid of, in a single try. But I see no good reason why fear should be an accepted, overlooked, and unprevented part of so many of our social institutions and processes. Fear is the enemy of learning. It"s the negator of joys, the preventer of play, the inhibitor of trust and love. Fear just gets in the way, slows things down, and causes unnecessary pain. One of the blessings of reinforcement based technology is that at least as far as animals and children go we now have a realistic way to keep them and take care of them and teach them without automatically using fear.
What makes that possible is the ability to take the viewpoint of an ethologist-reading, understanding, and respecting the innate signals, from a dog's sad eyes to a little boy's worried forehead-and combining that with the problem-solving skills of an operant trainer, to set up a different and happier circumstance and outcome.

AND in her book for those people who equate positive training with being permissive....on Page 167

Being "positive" is not the same as being permissive. You can say no to things kids want to do that are unsafe or impractial or unaffordable. You can exercise your own intentions and preferences. You can arrange life without having to please everyone all the time. In most cases most of the daily events that people tend to want to stop without punishment are actually not training problems anyway, but management problems. The baby is about to stick a bobby pin into the light socket? Saying no is not the answer. Until the baby is older, you will need to cover the light sockets and keep small objects out of the baby's reach. The puppy is peeing on the rug? Confine the puppy to the kitchen and laundry room, or to a crate and a play area, when you can't watch it or take it outside. Managing the environment is the sensible alternative to punishment, especially when the goal is a behavior the organism has not learned yet.

I found the book a little hard at first to get into and then I could not put it down. There is a web site with videos and articles to go along with the book, which was a very cool thing, I hope more books do that in the future. I got so excited by all the talk of clicker training and I recognized places that I have become lazy and unimaginative and have relied on the old habit of yelling about some of my dogs bad behaviors rather then really training and fixing the problem, so of course I had the clicker out before I had even got through a few chapters. There are a few exercises in the book for you to try, and lets just say my cat is well on the way to learning to "High Five".

I LOVE clicker training and I LOVE how anxious my dogs get to train, how they are not afraid to fail, how quick it is and I think it really does help me to respect the learning process and the learners. I do not use it all the time but I pull out the clicker when I have new behaviors that I want to teach-and it is always a party when the clicker comes out with everyone begging to be the lucky one to be given a chance to get me to give them treats, LOL. If you are a person new to clicker training or someone that would just like to get a little more info and a chance to get excited about clicker training again... I would suggest this book!

Liz tries a new herding instructor

Well, I have finally got around to posting the herding videos and writing about Liz's herding lesson last Thursday. Let me first say that herding is a very, very tiring sport for dogs, mentally and physically. Herding really wears my dogs out more then anything else we have ever done.

This is a new place for herding lessons for us and a new instructor. The lessons are really far away, it takes me about 2 1/2 hours to get there but I tried the instructor that is a little closer and I just really felt like he was not great for us. I have seen Robin work and I really felt like maybe she would be a better match to help the Lizard learn some herding. The reason we are trying herding is that it is fun, but more then that I feel like it is helping Liz to take some frustration out and helping her to learn to think and handle some situations better. I am really hoping it will help her in agility and it seems to be helping to take a little of the edge off her, where sometimes she just gets so wound up that it can not feel good to be in that state for her, so this seems to help make her a happier girl. So the instructor is Robin, from On the Lamb Herding and the lessons are in Fillmore, CA.

I have to say I really like Robin, she seemed to have a good handle on Liz and recognized right away that this is a soft dog and she really does not need harshness. Liz is used to just circling and that is easier for a dog but not terribly productive, because if the dog just keeps circling the sheep really go nowhere, which might not be good if you were working on the farm. Robin explained that Liz is afraid to directly look at the sheep because she thinks if she does they will all leave and she would hate for that to happen, so you can see she tries to just keep going around the sheep and looking at them from the corner of her eye, LOL, silly girl, but then how does she know any different. Another thing that a young dog like Lizzie does not understand is that the sheep can still see the dog and be moved by the dog when the dog is behind them. Liz thinks she need to go to their heads and be in front of them for them to see her. In this lesson Robin is trying to get Liz to experiment using her power on the sheep and figure out she can move them from behind. Liz does a lot of avoidance behaviors because it is very hard work to sit and think and figure this stuff out and to experiment with trying new ways of moving the sheep around. All in all she did a good job, she was tired and just coming off an injury and some decreased activity so she really looks out of shape, poor girl.

I edited the video to try to just include a lot of the actual instruction, but I got an aweful lot of actual working time, so the video was really long. I posted the full lessons, but in three parts on youtube, but it is a lot to watch, and gosh even the edited version is pretty long ;-).

Sunday, September 6, 2009

movie review, recall woes, and a new toy

Not much was going on today so I went to the movies and saw All About Steve. I was afraid it was going to be cheesy, but what else did I have to do today? It was VERY funny, I really liked it a lot. Nothing sad, just a nice predictable comedy that was very cute.

I spent about two days cleaning out my closet and shampooing the floors, so I shut Lizzie and Breeze in the kitchen area, it is pretty rare anything like that happens to them. Three and a half years I have worked on recalls with Liz just about every day and as long as she is not overly stimulated she is pretty good. At the end of the two days Lizzie was acting like she had never heard that word come before and she was acting totally feral. YIKES, is this what it has come down to, would we lose everything if I was gone for a week??? LOL, I shudder to imagine that. So I got out the clicker and a bowl of treats and started shaping some tricks. Liz just loves shaping and working so much that she sort of connected with me again and was acting a lot more like herself but definitely still blowing me off when I call her. I guess we go back a couple of steps on the really reliable recall and polish that up so more. Have I ever said Liz is not an easy dog??? Then you take Breeze, she was with Liz the entire time, and she acts like nothing has gone on. Breeze is just such a Breeze....always easy, always sweet, always easy to predict, but still plenty of action and excitement when the situation warrants. I really am lucky because I could not have chosen a better pair of dogs, Liz keeps things wild and exciting and is always up to something new, Breeze is always reminding me that I can train dogs and she is so much fun because I actually have a pretty good idea of what she is going to do and I can work with her anywhere without factoring the humidity, the day of the week, who will be standing around, what bugs are there that time of the year, how many bunny's have pooped in the particular field, you get the picture....everything can make a difference in how Lizzie performs, hahahaha, she always keeps me on my toes. The best part is that both of those dogs really have the same energy level once they get to playing or working so they just get along so well, they truly are very good friends.

I have been trying to get Breeze more hooked on rubber balls, she is a real ball girl, and loves the tennis balls. Her teeth are about half way worn down because of her tennis ball habit even though I have tried to limit them and she is not yet three years old, so I keep trying to get her hooked on other things. Also she is not a big tugger, and I would love to get her more into tugging because that is a great reward when training. ANYWAY, Breeze has really fallen in love with these toys and they are on sale this week at Target. They are great, there is the ball part which attracts Breeze and then the neck part of the chicken which makes it easy to pick it up. I can grab the ball part, Breeze grabs the neck and she will tug with them. They also squeak really well, and can be washed off when they get dirt all over and are not going to wear down the teeth like the tennis balls. I am thinking when I get a puppy the neck will make them easier to pick up for small mouths, so just thought I would share that these are quickly becoming Breezes favorite toy.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Liz's big day, the beach and herding with a new trainer...

Mom got me up EARLY and I was not sure where we were going. We got in the car and drove for a LONG time, but that is ok, we always go to good places when we are in the car a long time..herding, the beach, agility...it is the short trips that can be bad, like the vet....But good thing the cars come with head rests, makes taking a nap on the trip easier, especially when I am sitting on top of the crate...it was a special day so mom did not make me ride in the crate on the way to our adventure.

Whoo HOOOO we got to go to the beach and the KIDS came with us. I was so happy to have them there, usually it is just me and mom or me and the other dogs, or sometimes Alicia and Pickle and Hunda, but the kids are so much fun, so I was really excited to share my beach with them.

The waves were pretty big today and I got dunked under a HUGE WAVE. Mom says I am pretty smart so I learned and after my near drowning when the wubba toy went into the huge waves-I waited for the waves to bring the wubba back to me. Then there were medium size waves I would jump into the wave so my head did not go under, and then I would grab the wubba and for those little tiny waves.....I JUST GRABBED THE WUBBA.

So not only did I get to go to the beach, there was MORE, a new place to go herding, mom says she had a long day but she will post some video and tell everyone about that tomorrow!!!!!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Puppy Cams-fun to watch but be careful they can be addicting...

Sooo, you may have noticed I have done a lot more crafting now days, but I also have another new addiction....PUPPY WEB CAMS!!!!

This is for Hob Nob Border Collies, and I have to say I knew of Hob Nob and I had applied for one of their dogs before I got border collies, I know a lot of people with their dogs and I have went to her place and visited puppies in the past. I had no clue how much she does to make sure the little pups are given all the experiences I believe they should before they go to their new homes. I have had a blast watching her do the neuro stimulation program with the pups when they are first born, and I do not understand why everyone does not do that. Watching Jan stimulate her little pups,....it only takes a couple of seconds when she is weighing them every morning. The pups on this cam just turned 3 weeks old, and they got their first meal on their 3 week birthday then they got their little nails dremmeled, and then later in the day they played with a little toy that when they step on the buttons has music and lights. A few days later they moved to the living room, a little box with wood chips was introduced to encourage the pups to keep their area clean and to potty in there, and a wobbly board type thing was intoduced and some toys in the pen. It is very cute to hear and see Jan playing with her pups and she seems to have a pretty comprehensive schedule to make sure the babies are introducted to a lot of surfaces, noises and experiences. Jan is also very nice answering questions on the web cam and letting you hear all the little puppy noises, just too cute.

Nels puppy cam
this is Gabbys pup cam
The third web cam is for Bluffs pups.
This is Contact Point Border Collies pup web cam.
In the middle of the day there are usually 18 pups outside playing in their little play yard (Nel's and Gabby's pups get put outside together), talk about a puppy palooza!!!!! Those pups are 6 weeks tomorrow, so they are really all over the place.

NOOOOOOO we are not getting a pup from either of these places, I just like to watch the puppies

more handknit socks.....

California has a lot of fires in our area, there are two fires that are in our area, not close enough to come anywhere near threatening us, but close enough to make it very smokey and the air has fine ash.

Given the air quality it has been a quiet couple of days, our classes got cancelled and outdoor exercise is just not a good idea so the dogs have been hanging out and napping, the girls have been reading and I decided to finish this pair of socks I had been making. These socks are a pattern from a friend of mine, Collette wrote. I got to test them to see if the pattern would work for everyone and they worked just fine. The yarn is some hand dyed from Collette too. The interesting thing about this pattern is that it is for socks that go up to around the knee, and guess what,....everyone has different measurements, so the calf and the ankle and the length of the leg all have to be adjusted for each wearer. Collette did a marvelous job in addressing that. Collette sells her yarn and patterns in a shop that is listed on Etsy, which is an Internet site that has a lot of crafters that sell their goods in their individual shops, check it out sometime. http://www.etsy.com/ Here is Collette's blog that also has a link to her shop so you can check out the crafting she is up to http://lazyperryranchblog.blogspot.com/