Saturday, October 31, 2009

HALLOWEEN HOWLER NADAC TRIAL 2009

ONE Q and a FIRST IN STANDARD, and some learning opportunities!


This was the first course we ran. WHAT check out the tunnel/dogwalk discrimination. I looked at that when I got to the trial and wondered how that was going to happen. We trained that one night, it was aweful that night, and then I was working on the dog walk and getting contacts so I did not throw in any more of the discrimination with it. Whoops! Anyway, when I was coming back from that tunnel, I kept running straight into her line and did not turn to the dogwalk when I normally would, yelled tunnel, and the little sweetie did it. We had a super fast time, a Q and a first place. AND SHE GOT ALL HER CONTACTS!!!!-the whole reason we did the trial was to test that. As a bonus we got the weaves first try! Great start to the day.

Novice Standard Run Course 2
If you have not done NADAC before there are generally two standard runs, or at least there are at the ones I have been to. They run the first course then they reverse the course and run it again. So this was try two. I was worried again about the tunnel/dogwalk. Breeze was a little stressed this run, she would not play with the ball while we were waiting, and I brought her in and she was sniffing the ground. When I went to put her on the start line she would not lay down (her position at the start) and just tried to do a bow. YIKES!. So we go and she does awesome, at the dogwalk/tunnel discrimination I do a little RFP (which I have never shown her), and she got the dog walk. Whew!!! She got to the end of the dog walk and could not stick the contact and sort of bounced off. I looked at her and thought, my goal was to work the contacts so I just popped her back on, but I knew that was OK in NADAC but it also gave me the big E---not E for excellent, E for ELIMINATED, LOL. I did not know if she would recognize the hoop and drive for it at the end but she did fine. This time Breeze did her usual lately and missed the weaves the first time but did gorgeous as soon as I took her back and had her start again. Check out where the Aframe is facing, I am sure that made it much more tempting for Breeze to blow that contact but she did it wonderfully and actually she usually has a tendency to lay down at the bottom of the Aframe sideways, but with the tunnel in front it worked like when I put the ball down to release her too and it was the prettiest contact she has ever done!!!



Run Three JUMPERS!!!
After the stress signs Breeze showed for the last run I was glad we were doing jumpers. It looked like a SUPER SIMPLE, really flowey, really super easy course. When I walked it it still looked terrific. Breeze was not going to play with the ball on our way there so I took some food and started doing some tricks. That made her happy but when I said "speak" to see if I could get her happy, the gate steward started screaming at me. I did not think of it at the time but there were dogs all along the sides of the ring barking, so WHAT??? Anyway, Breeze went in and went to the start line, lay down and the minute I walked out, just a few feet she was up and looking very unsure. DRATS! I told her down, and then released her, well, she had moved a little too close to the first jump so she ran around it. I could have fixed it but at this point I just wanted to work on her stress, so I kept running. The rest of the runs we felt like one, when I was running I did not feel the difference between her and me, but this run, boy we did not feel like we were on the same page at all. So we finished, there was a little spinning, but if she had not gone around that first jump, or if I had fixed it we would have Q'd, but I deceided that was not the goal for today.

So why did Breeze stress? She has done that once or twice at trials before, and she has not done a lot of trials, so I do think it is something I need to figure out. We were sitting where it was hot, and the shade was not great. The only place we could find shade was by this RV and they had this little kid running all over it, he was a nice, cute kid, but kids make Breeze nervous, so I shielded her the best I could and after the second run I took her and left her in the car until the last run so she would not have to worry. I took Breeze out a lot and played with her and tried to give her down time. I was trying to use the ball which is her favorite thing before the runs, but on the third run I switched to treats which seemed to make her way happier before we went into the ring. So not sure what the deal was. Tomorrow we have jumpers and tunnelers so we will see.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Getting ready for our first standard run in a trial, yippie




So we are going to have our first STANDARD RUN tomorrow in a trial. Our first standard run ever, and we chose NADAC for the venue. We have done a lot of jumpers but because of the dog walk could not do standard runs and feel Breeze was not going to hurt herself. Unfortunately, I do not know anyone that will be there that can video so I will have to just rely on my myself to remember what happens and how it goes ;-) (think the big one that got away in fishing). I really wish I knew some people that were going to be trialing, after all this time out of trials I am back to feeling really nervous, and sitting all day by myself will probably not help that.

In preparation for our trial tomorrow, I went to the local agility class yesterday with Breeze, it was handling 2 so one of their upper level classes and it was WEAVE day. YIKES, weave day with my dog that is not figuring out how to switch from handler focus to obstacle focus and is having a hard time figuring out how to check her stride before she hits the weaves, add in tons of wild weave entrances, and boom instant confidence deflation for me right before a trial, LOL. We will limp through this weekend with those weaves, ughghghg, and work on them next week ;-). Now the good part is that I did all front crosses, more then anyone else, LOL, and I got to the right place for them all, which Breeze was moving wickedly fast, so I was pretty proud of that and the handling part of the course, besides the weaves was LOVELY. So that was a confidence booster.

We had two photographers from the local paper at class, and they set up right in front of the 180 on course, so the dog had to jump right into them, well, Breeze was first dog up, right after the photographers arrived and they did not phase her at all, I did not even see her slow up, so I think she is doing fantastic with distractions, now if only we could fix this weave problem!

For us running a standard run at the trial tomorrow is a big marker point in our training- after partially tearing her ACL on the dog walk and numerous other injuries on the dog walk, there was a serious question about if Breeze could really ever safely do a dog walk with her hip dysplasia and how she uses her back end sometimes, and especially in a trial when she gets excited. It looks like that was not the case, so I think Breezie and I are entering a really exciting, fun, phase now. We CAN FINALLY RUN STANDARD RUNS, YIPPIE !!!! Anyway, sappy as it sounds it was just a little sad and disappointing I could never show our instructor because she lost the field she was doing lessons in so she has pretty much said that we will no longer have lessons. It is sad it ended before she got a chance to see that we finally did it, and finally after a year and a half of rehab, training and retraining I feel safe running Breeze in standard now-so I am pretty excited.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I feel like we made it to the moon or somthing...

OK I know mankind will probably not be greatly affected by what has happened here at the bordergirlsmoms house...
I will probably be the only one in the world to be sleeping better tonight because of what has happened....
I will walk a little taller and feel a little prouder but I doubt anyone else will and I doubt the newspaper will be interested....

BUT WE HAVE CONTACTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YEA I MEAN FOR BREEZE!!!!!!!! Can anyone believe that?

I know it is not a big deal to train some nice contacts but Breeze is a retrain-she was doing a gorgeous 4 on the floor on the dog walk and a sucky four on the floor modified running contact on the Aframe. I was having so much trouble getting her to change to a 2020 on the dog walk and fix the Aframe. I had almost given up, and Diana encouraged me to keep at it, thanks Diana for that!!!



Things I have learned from this whole retrain process and lessons I will take away:
Keep at it just when it seems most useless it always seems I am on the verge of a breakthrough.
REWARD PLACEMENT, REWARD RATE, key factors you always have to really think about when teaching anything new.
MOST IMPORTANTLY, when I train ANYTHING, I need to have a super clear, super detailed, very specific picture of what I want in my head and always be working toward that, even if things get broken into smaller pieces you have to have that picture of exactly what you want to end up with ;-).

I AM SO EXCITED!!! I have now got two dogs with retrained contacts, I had no clue when this started how hard it would be to do a retrain, and with two dogs...I never thought it would happen!!!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

SUPERGIRLS move those sheep

I have to give you my impressions of Liz's herding Instructor-Robin from Om the Lamb Herding. I LOVE HER. She is a SUPERGIRL as far as I am concerned and I wish I could have got a picture but the way she arrives at the lesson and leaves-it just struck me as too funny, and a real SUPERGIRL entrance and exit. So imagine Robin-who is working Liz in the video leaving the lesson, she strides out of the herding ring, telling me what she thinks of Liz and what we need to do, she is dressed in shorts, with tennis shoes, a sleeveless top, her hair back in a low pony tail, and a visor that advertises On the Lamb Herding, and sunglasses. She is usually dressed pretty similarly because it is hot here in So Cal. So she is talking about Liz, striding quickly through the trees away from the area and onto a golf cart or 4 wheel drive vehicle-she hops on the cart, there is a crate strapped on the front, and a crate strapped on the back, her black/white smooth coat BC gets into position in front of the cart, she hops onto her little cart and flies off with her BC running in front. It made me laugh because I felt like who is that masked lady who strode in here fixed some problems with my dog and then flew on out.

It has been about a month since Liz could go herding-Robin was sick for her last lesson ;-(, so I was really looking forward to the lesson today although...I did not realize I had scheduled lessons for the same day as Liz's agility class, so it was a VERY long day for the Lizard. A 2 1/2 hour drive to herding, and hour herding and then a 2 1/2 hour back, we ran into the house to feed the other dogs, grab some treats and we were off to class. It was a big experiment and I was anxious to see how she would do with agility class after thinking for her herding lesson. The herding lessons really make her think, and tire her out, so I knew she would do amazing at class or be fried, but who knew which?

I am not quite sure how it worked, and how to interpret what I saw at agility class-did Liz do great after having herding first or was it too much?...Liz did AMAZING in the sequences she did and was so on it and so focused, she was actually decelerating and reading me when I needed her to, she was doing her contacts perfectly, really driving ahead and looking for obstacles, that was all good,....but then she took off a few times and we had our first full fledged...well, sort of full fledged zoomie that we have had in a LONG time. She took off to see friends a couple of times ;-(. The last time she went to see Deanna the instructor and when Deanna played the bad guy and sort of shuffled her off she at first sat and sniffed and kept out of reach and then just took off really fast...but the new thing was she took off and went to her crate. Humm, that is new. I can not say that is a bad thing if she is going to run.

When Liz ran into her crate Deanna had me take Dillon the blue merle aussie out and sit and play with her and give him lots of treats and do lots of tricks while the next dog ran,....Liz was not happy about that idea -as soon as the next dog had run she got another turn and she was all about working and very excited.

AS FOR HERDING During the lesson Robin said she did not think Liz would ever move big buffalo-which is OK because I have no access to buffalo, and Liz would never be a really super powerful dog and she does not know if she will ever be able to do 1,000 yard outruns...but she thought she would definitely be good enough when we build her confidence that she would be able to WIN some herding trials, whooo, is she serious?. I hope she is right about that....I would really like to learn more about herding. We went to a herding trial this weekend and I really know NOTHING about herding, but it sure made me realize how much there is to learn.

THE HERDING LESSON: Liz started off very stressed looking, avoiding, eating sheep poop, acting like no one was there. One sheep in particular kept staring at Liz...and that really upset her, first it made her nervous and a bit scared but then Robin encouraged/let her run after the sheep and yell at her and then Liz just got really mad when the sheep would stare at her. It was funny a couple of times when Liz almost shut down Robin would walk over and pet her and tell her she was a good girl- Liz's whole body would visibly puff up and she would rush into those sheep like a bull in a china shop. Robin worked her around the edges of the pen, using the fence to make Liz deal with the sheep and try to feel the power she has to move the sheep-Liz is really unsure if she has power and what to do with the power she does know she has. Little Liz needs to learn how to feel like SUPERGIRL-she has power and she can MOVE THOSE SHEEP.

Another thing Robin did say today was that she really felt having worked with Liz now that this herding work will really help her learn how to deal with things better which will help with her in agility. Helping her learn to think, and think through things, helping her confidence to grow and letting her feel her power should help her not be so overstimulated at times by her environment. I sure hope she is right about that but it sure seems to make sense and I am thinking....she just might be right.

This is a long video, and about half way through is the more interesting part where Robin talks about what she is teaching, how and why. The first part is just some of the stress signals I caught. I REALLY like Robin and I love that she does not seem to teach by a set schedule of steps but seems to respond to the dog and what they need which seems to change even in one lesson.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein



I know a lot of people read this book awhile ago and it is out in paperback now, I picked it up on a whim at Costco yesterday late afternoon and could not put it down until I finished it this morning. I cried like a baby at the end,one of those books that you want to finish so bad, but at the same time you hate to keep turning the pages because then it will be over...I REALLY enjoyed it and it made me look at my dogs a little differently last night and made me glad that I am lucky enough to have some really special dogs around me. If you have not read it and have some time, I would recommend it, but keep your tissues close at the end.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

my latest problem....


This is not dog related but it has been causing me a lot of grief in my life recently, so I really wanted to just take a minute to gripe about it. I know in each relationship there are spenders and there are savers. I suppose in my home I am more the spender, and my hubby is more the saver, ....er...and some days he can be a little cheap. He is the type of guy that when we wanted to get living room furniture, like the whole set...a couch, a love seat, a chair some side tables he thought that $200 should do it nicely....he thought a couple of hundred dollars would refloor the whole house. Well, welcome to 2009, he is just so funny at times.

The current difficultly arises from the fact that hubby would like to do all the shopping at the dollar store. I love the $1 store and they have some fun things. I do not like when hubby was trying to buy dish washer soap at the dollar store that left all sorts of weird films of an unknown substance that did not look safe on our dishes, when he buys these silly toys for the kids that have been recalled for lead and just end up in our feet broken all over the floor before they have been in the house for an hour, he would probably get his medications there if he could.

Recently, I realized hubby had bought a huge supply of TOILET PAPER at the dollar store. Let me tell you at least this dollar store toilet paper bears little resemblance to what I think of toilet paper. The roll of toilet paper is so small that we can go through several a day-which the dogs take the empty rolls and put them in the trash so they enjoy that, but it is turning into a daily occurrance that everyone is screaming to please get a new roll. The toilet paper seems to be made of some scratchy wood that I am sure they thought about turning into paper, but...they apparently didn't quite get that far and how could something that is so see through and thin be that scratchy? Needless to say I made a trip to Target today and got a BIG pack of the toilet paper mega rolls, LOL, something that will last and is a little higher quality. The funny thing is that the dollar store rolls were so small, I can not believe all in all that the dollar store toilet paper has got to be way more expensive per sheet then the nicer real toilet paper that actually functions like toilet paper.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Liz handler plus class, session 2-

Oh Liz and I can be a sad little team. I took Liz to her class last night, it was freezing so I grabbed my sweater and saw that Breeze pulled my sweater into her crate and ate a hole in the sleeve-REALLLY BREEZE?? Was that necessary?

Liz did AMAZING for being Liz. She ran off to say HI to Deanna the instructor- she rounded a corner looked suprised to find Deanna there and just had to say HI.
I frustrated Liz by being in the wrong place to show her how I wanted her to come off the teeter and I pushed her out around a jump, but whatever...she was happy and working well. We did a rear cross exercise after this that was...well, something we can work on, LOL.

BUT SHE ONLY RAN OFF once during class and she was able to work the entire class-and those are long classes, that is HUGE for her.
videold

Monday, October 19, 2009

Could we actually be making some progress on the 2020 retrain with Breeze?

videoOk after the fun match and feeling sooo very confused and discouraged over the contact situation with Breeze, I sat down and knew I had to figure out how to train this 2020 to Breeze. I am TIRED of talking about these contacts, I am seriously tired of training them, I am tired of seeing the suckey contacts, and I am ready to just make it happen. RETRAINS ARE HARD. So I broke the problem down for myself and tried to figure out what Breeze understands and what she doesn't... and I swear Breeze really understands the 2020 when I am right there, when we do it slowly, when she is not excited.....but the minute I add speed or excitement in....it all falls apart and I SWEAR she thinks in those situations the criteria IS a 4 on the floor.

So I sat down and thought of all my training principals. I tried to think how this was looking to Breeze and how could I use reward placement, the timing of the reward, and the rate of reward to make things look different for her to get her to understand that I want her to do 2020 all the time on the dog walk.

I deceided to try the manners minder again, I figured it would put some pressure on her because it would be in front of her, it would allow me to reward from far away and control the reward delivery, and I just get the feeling if I could get her to do it right just a few times, she will get it.

I went outside and got everything ready, I had a special reward set up because if she really got it and drove into position fast I wanted something to really make an impression on her that she got it right, I got everything set up and then brought her in.

First time she blew by the contact and the second time,...she stopped, that is the time I got on video. Whoo HOOO. She got a big tuna treat.

After a few more tries, I took her over and did the Aframe with her where I am using the 4 on the floor, I wanted to pair the two contacts to really make it clear which one I wanted where. I went back and forth three or four times, and then was able to take away the manners minder and SHE GOT HER DOGWALK CONTACT!!! I celebrated and then quit, I will give her overnight to think about what we did and hopefully she is starting to get the idea!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

FUN MATCH

We had a fun Match here in town today. I took Lizzie and Breeze to scope out the situation, I knew I would run Breeze, but I had to check out how Lizzie seemed at the site and what the fencing situation was. I brought Liz out first so that if it looked good I could get her going before she had a chance to stew and get herself reved up, and before I could get myself nervous. The only ring I could go into fairly quickly was a tunnelers course, with snow fencing that was about 2 feet tall around the course, but the course was in the back of the yard...so further from the open front area to the busy street. I have never had Lizzie loose in that loosely fenced an area, but I deceided I was going to screw up my courage and try it. I was not that nervous going into the tunnelers ring, and I alerted the ring crew that we could have problems so they put a bunch of chairs at the in/out opening.....(I also choose the tunnelers ring because NO one was there, so I knew I could take my time). At first Liz ran past the first tunnel and was ramping up to start running off, so I pulled out my toy and started putting her through one tunnel at a time and then tugging with her favorite toy after each tunnel. Pretty soon she was not scanning for take off points and starting to look for the tunnels then look for me, so I started finding two tunnels in a row to sequence a little more, then three in a row, and then I was able to do four that were a little further apart. LOTS of reinforcement in lots of places, and WHEW, we were done and there were no zoomies and no running off. I was so happy that we were able to do that, but now I am thinking that maybe the NADAC trial with no treats or toys might not be such a good idea. I do not want her to get ring wise and figure out when it is good to stay with mom and when it is not.

Next I wanted to put her in the standard ring, but there was a lot more activity there, a lot more people and a long wait. I could walk up to the jumpers, so I figured factoring everything in....that might be the best bet. So I asked the ring crew if Liz started heading for the gates if they could look big I would appreciate it, LOL, they were super terrific and all asked for a handful of food, everyone made sure they knew her name and they all stood in the entrance and exits. I WAS SOOOO NERVOUS. Way more nervous then I would have thought I would be-Could that be part of our problem???? Hummm. I had not walked the course, but I figured I was only going to try for a few obstacles at a time, but the fencing was seriously only about 2 feet high, and Liz has never been impressed by that type of fencing in the past. We were able to go and do some three or four obstacle sequences, pretty good attention and not trying to scan for a time to leave like she did in the tunnelers course. Lots of reinforcement, and I was able to do some short sequences with a little bit of handling....YIPPIE, so we safetly got out of the ring.

I was suprised at how nervous I got, I knew it would make me nervous but my heart was pounding soooo hard, it was hard to breathe. I think it will take a lot of these things before Liz and I can truly trust each other when I know she could actually leave and get into harm....BUT SHE DID DO IT!!! Which means with more experience and more training,....SHE JUST MIGHT BE AN AGILITY DOG!!! Yippie!!!

Breeze got to do the standard ring and it was hot so I did not wait to walk the course, I figured I just wanted to work on the contacts anyway. Gorgeous Aframe and the suckiest dog walk contact, grrrrrrr, I think I can totally do a four on the floor but she is just not transferring the dog walk 2020 to any sort of situation where we are anywhere else but my back yard or occassionally class. she just is not doing it anywhere there is any excitement, and I have tried to be so consistent and tried to set up situations but it does not seem to be getting better, that four on the floor is just so strong. I think I might have to just go with the four on the floor and train what I do not like that she was doing with that. Otherwise it is going to be forever until I can trial her in standard. I do not want to take her in there and let her not follow the criteria so she gets ring wise, I want to make sure I am reasonably sure she is going to do it or be in a place I can correct it.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Front Cross day at class



Breeze went to the agility class that is by my house today and she did great. The topic of the class was front crosses and we were ONLY allowed to use front crosses for everything.
REVIEW OF RULES OF THE FRONT CROSS:
1.must be ahead of the dog to do a front cross
2.Keep your eye on the dog and make sure they have read it and are still with ya ;-)
3.changes the side of the dog-change of side
4.turns the dog-put on a curve
5.Perform as close to the next obstacle as possible
Breeze did good, in the bottom sequence on the course map which is the one we did first -I had trouble sliding over quick enough to get the front cross from 9 to 10 jumps and Breeze had trouble going from handler focus when I did that front cross to looking for the next jump and going back to looking for obstacles.
The second course which is the one I put the clip of-I had walked it wrong so I hesitated slightly before the jumps a couple of times because I was not sure of where I was going, and I almost forgot the last jump, and Breeze was not understanding the first jump, it was a severe slice and I knew she would have some problems so I deceided to break it down and reward her after she ran around it the first time, so I threw the ball to reward her getting it right when she went over the first jump. All in all we had a GREAT class. The weather was gorgeous, Breeze was running nice and looking good, and we were doing agility, so it was all good. And what is an agility class without a sheltie barking in the background, LOL, made me feel right at home because that is what my shelties are always doing, but this one for a change was not mine ;-).

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Clicker Kimmie


It is cold and rainy today, so I did one session a few weeks ago trying to see if I could clicker train something with Kimmie the cat, and given the weather....seemed like a good thing to try today. So I want to get this a little stronger and use that as a first step for a trick. Kimmie is 5 yrs old and has no tricks, she has done some training of us...but we have not trained her.

Skyler is a new dog today, I know the vet tech said it would take a week to see changes, but don't tell that to Skyler, he is happy, following me around and looks like he feels 100% better, his little magic thyroid pills are working well ;-) .

Monday, October 12, 2009

so many things to remember....

I lucked out and got Skyler an appointment at the vet at 8am this morning. Poor guy his body temp was very low, almost at the danger point...and the vet was concerned that this all seems to have come on so suddenly and his thyroid levels were so low...so I popped his first thyroid pill while we were still in the office and they said to expect to start to see changes in about a week ;-).

So now the problem is that he is supposed to get his pill an hour before a meal or three hours after, and he gets them twice a day. Not to be funny but something has happened to my mind and I used to remember everything and be very regimented...but lately I sometimes forget the dogs meals until they are really late in the day or evening occasionally....so now I have to remember to get those meals on time and the pills timed with the meals, wow, that is asking a lot of me lately, hahahahaha. I suppose that will make the puppies happy that I have to be a little more careful about the meals being more on a schedule...ooooh the pressure!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Skyler's blood goes to Dr. Dodds lab...


I just found out my poor guy Skyler has some serious thyroid issues going on. His thyroid levels are sooooooo low, no wonder he has not felt good lately. I can not wait for Monday so I can get him in to his vet and get him started on some Thyroid medication.

Funny how things can just sort of creep up on you. The oldest member of my pack is Skyler who is 7 yrs old, a tricolor sheltie and my first agility pal. Skyler has had a rough life, he had parvo as a pup, then no one wanted him because they were afraid of the parvo, so he came to me, then I found somewhere along the way his little tail had been damaged so he has no sensation and can not move it. His tail can make people think he is not happy-along with his black eyes that are not as easily seen, and it makes it hard for him to get his tail out of the way when he poos. He was not really comfortable in agility classes and we did LOTS and LOTS of reactive dog classes, lots of work, lots of learning, he is the dog that started me down the path to learning all I have about dog training, behavior, etc... Eventually I deceided he was happy doing back yard agility and playing and just being a friend.


Skyler has always had a gorgeous coat, tons of undercoat, he has always sheds tons but he has always been gorgeous. Anyway, lately it seemed like some of the changes in him happened slowly, then all of a sudden-I just feel bad I did not put together all the pieces earlier. The past few weeks I noticed that when I came out in the morning I could hardly wake him up, I would have to go over and really shake him. He has all of a sudden HATED going outside, and even started peeing in the house sometimes so he could avoid going outside. I felt like it seemed like it was just too much effort for him to move. That went on for a few days, then he seemed to snap out of that, but that was when I noticed his coat changes. He has gotten picky about his food. Poor guy does not seem to care when Breeze would be bossy to him (he is Breezes only target with her bossiness lately). I also noticed that Sky moved like everything hurt him. Then I was noticing how much he was shedding and went to brush him and noticed that the dog that had such thick hair that I could never find his skin....had some bald spots behind his legs and I could easily find his skin.

I have been to several seminars with Dr. Jean Dodds who is one of the foremost authorities on thyroid matters and also has the project to study and eventually be able to change the rabis vaccination laws-she wants to prove how long the innoculations last and make the revaccinations that are required based on how long the vaccine will work not just every few years for the heck of it. I knew that the thyroid test that Dr. Dodds lab will do is based on 5 thyroid tests and she reviews them herself and gives recommendations and the 7200 Panel includes the full thyroid and the CBC for the price my vet charges for a CBC. I paid $115, plus a blood draw fee to my vet, plus postage, but so much cheaper then the $300+ I have paid for thyroid panels in the past.http://www.hemopet.org/
They also do distemper/parvo titers for about $36 for both the titers, if you need blood work you should check it out. Dr. Dodds staff has always been wonderful, they have been very nice when I call and check to see if the blood got there, they have always looked and checked on my results when I called and my friend who sent blood too got a call from Dr. Dodds herself late at night to check what the age of the dog was because my friend had forgot to put that on the form and they needed it for the analysis. I got my results emailed to me on a Saturday night which I appreciated because I had been waiting anxiously for the results. Dr. Dodds thyroid panel is the only one that will factor in the dogs age/breed. In addition to the great prices and service, I really like that it is supporting a good cause.

The other part of Dr. Dodds business is a blood bank, she takes Greyhounds from the dog racing tracks and they live at her facility which I hear is a very nice place for the dogs and she uses the dogs for blood donors that provide blood and blood products for other dogs and at the end of the time the dogs stay with her she adopts them out to homes. I really like Dr. Dodds, if you ever get a chance to attend one of her seminars I would recommend going, I have learned something new each time I go to one.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The thing about Lizards is...you never can tell how things will go!

Well, class was overall TERRIFIC for Liz last night. I think I got a lot of good things to keep an eye on in future classes. These classes are LONG. They typically last 2-3 hours, so for some dogs that would be the kiss of death, but for Liz the longer she was there the better she did, by the end she was so totally spot on everything and working so nicely...for her I am thinking these long classes might be really good, enough time for her to get there and get settled and get her brain together, work through the first excitement, etc. When we got there Liz was VERY HYPER! I could not leave her in a crate while Deanna gave her first class speech about where the potty is, blah..blah..blah...LOL, a fine speech, but of course I have heard it a few times...

Liz was barking and screaming so I could not leave her in a crate, I must have went through a whole bait bag full of food and every trick we had even thought of to keep her with me and keep her head during the orientation stuff. I would have been a bit concerned but I stayed in the moment and did not think about what this might mean once we got started. With Liz you can never predict...so why stress trying? LOL

So then we started the exercises. Unfortunately we started with some wrap practice and the first exercise was just wrapping around one jump and Deanna does get pickier with me...she knows I really want to get good, but Liz was not happy redoing something so quick a few times over, so she took off for a minute, I had to go get her but not a real true zoomie, so partial victory? The next exercise was two jumps and Liz was a little frustrated and wanted to sniff in her stay and did take off when I tried to correct her not going over the first jump...but she got back on track after a tug game. By the longer sequence she did really nice except for not figuring out to switch from handler focus to obstacle focus and to drive ahead at the last two jumps, hey, I will take that!!!

The second set of exercises was a discrimination exercise, and Liz did very good, Little Lizards can do really well and stay on course and get all their weavies, each and every time. Our only problem is that Liz is what Deanna says like a kid with a Ferrari, she sees no need to take the food off the gas....decels are not our friend...yet,...so to get her to decel and not jump full force is not exactly happening too well, but she did terrific and stayed with me. I was even able to walk her back to the crate without a leash-HUGE for Liz.

Third was the reverse flow pivot, which I do not like at all, I can do them but I do not feel they are good for my dog or fit well in my handling system, I want a dog like Liz to always trust that I am not giving her mixed signals, but last night, well, what ever, of course by that time Liz was perfect and we do have a killer reverse flow pivot, LOL.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Wish us Luck!

Well, wish us luck, tonight is Lizzies first class at PawPrints, the local training club. Actually I am pretty excited to see how she is going to do. On the plus side it is close, so she does not have to be in a crate for a long time before class...it is later in the day, so maybe she will be winding down (but, that is silly this is Liz and she never winds down, LOL...), she will know one or two of the dogs but mostly they will be new dogs, the classes are long-so I am thinking if we end up losing some of her brain then I will just leave. I have been through these classes with the other dogs, and the last time I took this class Liz did some of the exercises, so at least it will not all be new.... I am afraid to bring Breeze because when I bring both dogs one always sits and screams when the other works, which does not make me popular...so I feel like this is my first time without the training wheels and Liz is going alone for better or for worse-no back up dog, hopefully she can pay attention through the whole class and if not we will evaluate again if I have to bring a second dog to work....

Can you tell I am a little nervous? Not really nervous but feeling like I want to really plan for success and give Liz every chance to feel good and have a good experience. No big deal if she does not do well, but I just hope she has progressed enough to pull this off and I am not really sure she has, so I am keeping my fingers,..... and toes... crossed.....I am packing up lots, and lots of treats...hummm, think I will head to Target and get a few more treats, would not be good to take any chances on running out especially since I might end up having to do a lot of feeding to keep her working and focused on me, hahahahahah, and I am packing the best toys,basically getting everything organized. I went over what is on the lesson plan so that I can devote full attention to giving clear signals and keeping on top of Liz without being distracted by figureing out what my part is. Liz is very sensitive to me and if I am unsure or confused that really wigs her out-so of course I avoid that!!!!

It is cool today, and the wind is blowing, YIKES, that always puts the dogs in a wilder mood, so we will see!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Bark in the Park-Lancaster, CA

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR.....I took Breeze to a show n go at the Lancaster Bark in the Park...tons of dogs and lots going on. Breeze is really getting more and more excited doing agility and for so long I was having trouble with her not wanting to drive ahead of me and trying to run with her head turned backwards, LOL, little goofy dog...so based on what has been going on the past few weeks, I think...we can say we have conquered that problem and now Breeze just feels she is ready to run the course by herself, no handler needed, LOL. She does pretty good but she does look for and find lines that make sense to her, which is not necessarily the course, and like today going to the table she felt we could safely bypass that and go to the chute. She has always LOVED the table so I did not give really strong support to that because she has never needed it, but alas...now the table is not a favorite place, so guess a few table games are in order. Anyway, she no longer runs with her head backward trying to look at me--fixed that a little too well, LOL. Guess balance in all things is nice!

Bark in the Park had tons of things going on, lots of dogs which were mostly pretty well behaved (in my experience that is not always the case at those kind of events, but most of the dogs were really well behaved dogs), there were lots of people and Breeze did AWESOME. Soooo fun to have a nice, well socialized dog, I really appreciate that about Breeze. First she did the show n go agility run and really did pretty well, then she did the game where you let your dog run and they track the speed with a radar gun and she was the second fastest dog of the day, then we tried some dock diving. It was the first time we tried dock diving and she was soooo excited and wanted to go up there so bad, but then she was afraid to actually jump in. Breeze stood at the end and was half way over the edge, I so wanted to just touch her which would have knocked her in...but of course I did not do that. She did run in off the ramp they can use to get out so a few more tries and I think she might actually be able to do it.

The greatest thing is that Breeze was so relaxed with all those people for a change it did not bother her when people wanted to pet her. Usually Breeze wants to go up to people but she will alarm bark and scare the pee wad out of the potential petter when they try to pet her-so I usually try to watch and intervene but today she was totally relaxed and loved all the attention she got. Breeze even went up to some kids and was letting them say HI to her and she was great with the other dogs, she was a very good girl, and when there was down time she was able to lay down on her side and relax, she was really on her best behavior.

Friday, October 2, 2009

REWARDS-they are not all the same ;-)


WOW, I was reminded last night of a really powerful training tool that I picked up from some training tips Susan Garrett gave out last summer to her email list. The tip was that Susan said she uses a REALLY special treat, one that she never gives any other time for when there is an awesome performance that is well above the average, like say a dog working on contacts hits their contact really nicely, with a very quick performance of the obstacle, with a above average performance she will whip out a special treat and she suggested sardines-packed in water with reduced salt-that was the treat she suggested.

My first experience with trying that was with the Lizard. She was origionally trained contacts with the modified running contacts but I did not figure in the Lizard factor....and she quickly learned to perform the Aframe with a leap up past the up contact, hitting just above the yellow, leaping over the apex and landing just above the down contact and then leaping down to a gorgeous down with her butt touching the end of the Aframe. Yep, Liz figured out how to just hit the Aframe twice, miss all up and down contacts and still hit a gorgeous four on the floor position, yep she is talented. SO, I was back to the tried and true 2020 because I knew Liz did not have enough self control and needed more connection points then a running contact would give us. ANYWAY, Liz was VERY confident and LOVED her four on the floor and so she knew when I was teaching her that I was just trying to trick her and she was not going to be tricked and I could not get a 2020 on the obstacles. Anyway, so we worked it and eventually the way we got some great contacts was using sardines-when she would get into a 2020 and it was nice, she got sardines. It was a very concrete way for her to figure out what I really wanted, and it became the most fun, exciting behavior and we made our contact break through. I realized what a powerful tool that can be. My instructors realized how crazy I could be and had to suffer through when I needed them to treat with the sardines when I was not right there, LOL, and had to suffer through the smell that leaves on your hands-I have some really good sports for instructors and training buddies.

SOOOOO LAST NIGHT, this whole concept came into play again and I did not realize it was happening until the night was going way hay wire with Breeze and I could not figure out why. Breeze has always been a ball NUT. Lately I have taken away the tennis balls because her teeth are all being filed down so badly, you would think I had clipped her teeth as the canines are about half gone. I use a tennis ball material squeeky dumbbell toy for her when we train and I use rubber balls around the house. I have had to make sure the tennis balls are GONE, because otherwise she kept finding them so I was not even keeping a couple out for training. So last night Karen had suggested using a clip to hold the tennis ball to reward Breeze to help my timing. So I wanted to try that, which meant using a tennis ball-and I was able to find a squeeky tennis ball, and that was the reward for the night.

OOOH MY GOSH, I had a wild dog, she was so excited to see tennis balls, and at first I could not figure out why I had this wild, excited dog. Well, we were working out an issue with the weave entries.....I threw the ball for her when she got the weaves and we had a little party. YIPPIE, I still was not putting 2 and 2 together. Next we were working on some sequences, Breeze was supposed to go through the tunnel and come out of the tunnel turn away from the weaves...and toward me and continue through a jump box, blah, blah, blah. Well, she just kept ignoring my body position, my voice and just driving to the weaves, thinking she could make up a good course that included the weaves, LOL, she was really being a little turkey butt. Of course it hit me that the tennis ball was such an unusual, special, high value reward that she was willing to do just about anything to get it and quite a bit of the tennie ball's value had been transferred to the weavies, they were the big ticket obstacle at that point. Whooo hoooo, I guess I got a good lesson last night in the value of continually reassessing the heirachy of value of rewards and thinking carefully about how things are rewarded. So we worked through that and I used the ball for some of the sequencing too, and I am thinking of keeping that ball as a little more special reward.

The power of the tennis ball came into play again with the contacts. I have just not been able to get the 2020 with Breeze on the dog walk when we add in speed, she is doing terrific if we just go up or if we are just driving from a small distance, if it is from a further distance away, then she goes back to four on the floor. So I have been working the last week on setting a ball straight out in front of her and when she hits the position then I treat her on the obstacle in the 2020 position and then release her to get her ball. I used that to get her to go straighter and not turn sideways trying to look at me, but having the magical tennis ball sitting out in front of her let us get the 2020 with 100% accuracy last night in 4 sequences-WOW, that is HUGE! Breeze also got her four on the floor on the aframe really nice last night. All in all a good training session with lessons learned by the handler and the dog, what more could I ask for?

Liz was the awesome star, a new class, some dogs that were running off, she has not worked around other dogs for awhile and 2 hours in the crate before we got to class, could have been a recipe for disaster but Liz was a little distracted before it was our turn but never once left or was distracted while she was working. I even threw her toy bag at the end of the dog walk to get her going out straight, and held my breath because she had the prize and that was a real danger time for her running a victory lap and forgetting all about me. She grabbed the toy, shook and killed it, and ran back to me with it, YIPPIE, Little Lizards can make great choices!!! She was awesome and has never looked as good doing agility as she did last night, and she was with some dogs that were worrying her, a class she did not know, boy was a proud of that little monkey.