Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Our awesome gift!

Our new awesome gift we received! The PERFECT dog bowl!



I tried to have my dogs do a stay, and Crickets stay is super awesome when she is by herself, but bring out a camera and the other dogs.....not so hot! Liz would like to avoid this situation, she wants to be anywhere but here.


Cricket couldn't stand it anymore, here she comes!


Breeze looks like she is thinking "gosh, with this kid this is going to take forever", and Liz looks like she wants to yell at Cricket, "WHY, can't she hold still?"



I would do a wordless Wednesday picture, LOL, but I always have too many words, LOL. I hated leaving my blog with the depressing messages to sit there but...we have not done anything much worth talking about. We had our last two classes, in the gale force winds, and Lizzie did fine, but of course Breeze is still on the injured list. Breeze goes back tomorrow to see how her leg is doing, but it seems a lot less swollen and less painful, so that is all good.

We got a new giftie from my friend Denise. These are sooo cool. She had one of these thermas things for her dog bowl last summer and they are terrific-DARE I say the PERFECT dog bowl, but it is IMPOSSIBLE to find thermas coolers this size. It holds one gallon so it is not too heavy, plenty of water,it is the perfect dog for taking to trials or class- not too deep and plenty wide for the doggies head to go inside, it never leaks-just pop the lid back on and you are ready to go and of course it has a handle too, it is PERFECT. We both looked at every little store and scoured the aisles of all the stores to see if they had this particular size...but no luck. I have not been looking lately...but Denise, boy, she is determined and she found some at the Bass Pro Outlet, so she and Kodi got my girls one!!!! YIPPIE and thanks so much Denise. I proudly used it for class the last two days, and it worked awesomely, if that is a word.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Ughghgh, not again....

Breeze had to have her next herding lesson cancelled next week, our last agility classes of this session are next week-the ones where we put everything we have learned this session together and run a full course, always the best classes of the series, she will miss my bonus class I was supposed to get for getting to class early every week and setting up the courses and helping tear down. I am depressed watching Breeze not wanting to move off the couch and protecting her foot, I am depressed I am setting up the xpen around my bed so she is not jumping on and off and hurting her foot. I hate the xpen around the bed-makes me feel like I am sleeping in a crib, and mostly because it reminds me someone is hurt once again. I have to admit I am feeling a bit bummed.

I should be out working with Liz, or maybe doing some more shaping with the cutie pie puppy...but I am just feeling bad because Breeze is injured once again. I feel so bad for her and it feels so unfair that every time we get going something else happens. It feels so unfair that she is so good and loves things so much, she hides injuries because all she wants to do is do agility or herding or play no matter how much it hurts physically, it is all worth the price for her to be able to play.

I noticed something was wrong going to the start line at class on Wednesday. Breeze was doing a lot of prancing, and I noticed the right foot seemed to prance a little higher and a little slower then the other foot, and I could not get her to settle down and walk, but I was not sure. I remember a soundness test that Nat described on her blog-Dream Dogz:http://dreamdogz.blogspot.com/2010/04/soundess-test.html thanks for posting that Nat. Anyway, so I pick up Breezes bad foot and she stands just fine and I pick up the good foot and she collapses against me rather then put weight on the questionable foot....I did it twice with the same results, YEP, guess she is hurting, class done for us. As soon as I saw that I knew we were done for the day. Later that night the foot was all swollen and it really hurts her a lot.

I think this is a reinjury of when Breeze hurt her foot chasing the ball a few weeks ago, the vet is fairly sure the toe is not broken, but there is a lot of swelling, she got acupuncture and a laser treatment yesterday, lots of ice packs and we will see. If she is not starting to look better by next week then we will x-ray to make sure the toe did not break.

Of course no matter how depressed I feel the little Crickster can make me laugh. First off we were working on putting her toys away and she is such a crack up, when she gets even a little frustrated trying to figure out what to do she talks, and wooo woos, and is the most vocal little girl. I am going to have to try to get that on video. I was on the phone and did get this little clip of how Cricket can get the baby gate open. It is funny because Liz knows how to lift the gate to get it open, but she has no clue how to undo bungees. Cricket is an expert at getting the bungees off the gate but really does not know how to open the gate. If those two ever pool their talents I am going to be in big trouble. Funny thing is they leave all the other baby gates in the house alone, it is just this one that they have decided are optional barriers. Not the greatest video but it gives you the idea how determined Cricket is. First there are two bungees, which are gone very quickly, then Abby ties the one on and Cricket tries to handle that too, LOL.

video

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Neither Rain, nor Sleet, nor Snow will keep us from agility, oooh wait is that how it is supposed to go?

CRICKET-
SEVEN MONTHS NOW andwhat a cutie.
I measured her with a wicket and she is right at 18 inches, ughghghg, she is going to be at the bottom of the 20 inch jump height for AKC I bet.
She is about 31 lbs.
She is just getting more full of it by the day. We are working on some tricks, but mostly stuff that takes a bit to teach, but we will have video coming. We have "left" and "right" almost to the point where it is only on a verbal and she spins the right way with no hints from me, almost there....left still needs a tiny little point, so it will be ready pretty soon. We have used back chaining and almost got "put away your toys", that was a blast to train with the shaping and starting off with just having the toy in a bucket and having her look at it. She is also getting the pivoting with her front feet on something and then pivoting her back legs walking slowly so she is moving her feet deliberately in a circle. So nothing finished yet, just tons of projects in the works!

As far as ears...some days they like to do this....



this was just a few minutes later, somtimes they like to do this- her ears are just waving "hi!"LOL



SNOW in CA in Mid April, what??? and during our agility class? how is that possible?

Yesterday was Liz's regular class at 3 pm and then there was finally a spot Breeze could drop in for the 5 pm class. At the end of Liz's class there was some light sprinkling. Each class has us out there for over 2 hours and there was some wicked wind, so I was pretty cold and wind whipped by the end of Liz's class and there was that sprinkling. I thought about cancelling out on Breeze's class...but my training buddy is in that class and I had been trying to drop in for a long time. Well, let me tell you....it started pouring, not just a little rain..but pouring, and then there were little tiny snow flakes. Mother nature can be quite a trickster.....so she gave us a huge dousing before she decided to start the wind machine, if she had done it in the other order it might have been a little better, LOL. I can not believe how sopping wet we all got. One of the girls in class had to run holding up her pants because they were so wet. There were two small dogs that were not going to get onto the table, no way, no how with the water. Breeze apparently has not had proofing on her stay in the rain, she was not going to stay with rain pelting her in the face, LOL. I finally did get her to stay and it was funny because the wet tunnels, the wet table and running in the mud did not seem to bother her, just that stay. I would not have run if the course had any other contact obstacles besides the table, but it seemed safe for the dogs the ground was not more slippery. Of course Deanna said we will thank her one day....maybe far in the future because tunnels and tables often get wet if the sprinklers get left on, or from morning dew on the grass, and our dogs will have experience, LOL. Guess it will take a few days of warming up before I am thanking her, LOL.

Tables and Start Lines
I love Deanna my instructor because she just breaks down everything into little pieces. When I was new to agility I think a lot of that would go right over my head, but having had enough dogs and doing agility long enough that I feel like I have a hefty list of things that have gone wrong for us....so now I love that because when I have problems pop up now a lot of times what we have learned just pops back into my head and I do feel like it is really helping avoid some things by the foundation I am trying to do with the Crickster. SO I like to put this stuff down so it cements for me and so I remember as I look back...so sorry to make everything so long, but it is my way ;-). The subject for the day was tables and start lines. There is a lot to those and I think it just seems like such a no brainer that a lot of people take them for granted, if their dog stays at the start or jumps on the table it seems all systems are go and no need to worry. The amount of dogs that really have trouble with these two areas seems to tell a different story ;-). There also is a big correlation between the two since they both require a lot of the same skills, a dog that gets into a position fast and happily, a dog that holds the position until released, and a dog that blasts out from that position-quickly, eagerly and happily. You want the dog on the table or the start line to hold their position but just be waiting eagerly to get out of there, not ready to stay for the duration, LOL.

What we mostly looked at last night was the three main areas on both of these things and how we reward or make each of those things rewarding for the dog. So I came up with what I have been doing with my dogs, I play games to do a quick sit and a quick down. At the start line I reward when they go to the line and quickly sit or down, and I have taught my guys to go right in front of me, I keep my back to the first jump and that way I do not have to touch them to play them, which would be a huge punishment for my dogs if I had to touch and move them. So then Deanna suggested I get them in position once in awhile and then immediately release and then treat for getting into position quickly. Some of the dogs in class she would let go over the first jump as soon as they sat to reward that quick getting into position.

Second component is that holding the stay, and I feel I mostly reward that with a a release which is a release of the pressure of having to hold the stay and my dog finds getting to run so rewarding. Now when Breeze was being a butt and not staying on the start line in the rain I rewarded with a ball being thrown back to her, something she did not expect.

The third component was blasting off the start line as soon as the release word is given. I did do some work on getting to my lead out position, releasing Breeze and then when she got going I threw her ball to reward that quick leaving the line, with Liz I got out my tug toy and she got to grab it and tug when she got to me.

The biggest thing that struck out to me was being unpredictable, the dog not getting too set in any one thing happening and rewards may pop up at any time and making each of the parts of start lines and tables which can be sad for some dogs....more happy.

The table is pretty much the same thing. My dogs were having trouble blasting on to the table and not skidding off the side, brakes can be a good thing, LOL, so I kept bringing them back and reapproaching and the second they held onto the table they got released to a fun game or to the next obstacle, I did not feel like I wanted to work on the stay last night, they are doing well with that and hanging onto the table is our big thing now. It all gave me a lot to think about and I am definitely doing a lot of games on the flat with Cricket already in preparation for her future career.

Maybe I could be more fun?
Liz ran the first course....OK, but she was yelling at me and kept cutting in front of me and trying to stare at me and I could tell she was REALLY thinking about wandering off. I had already been thinking maybe I have been getting greedy now that Liz runs better and not realizing that she still needs more frequent rewards. I has wanted to try out a new strategy and I am soooo pleased with how it turned out.
I gave a toy to Deanna and loaded myself up with Liz favorite toys, one in my sleeve, one down the back of my waist band, one in my front pocket and I asked Deanna to throw the toy the second Liz was really obstacle focused and really driving ahead. I told her to do that even if I did not know she was going to, because I wanted to really get it clear for Liz that running and driving ahead is ok. Deanna thew a bunch of toys and I threw things and stopped every couple of obstacles and OMG, I had a totally different dog, so into things and just so happy to work, so I guess I need to remember to be a little more fun and think more of what I want her to learn instead of what I am trying to do.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Runaway Liz...aka, why I do not trust Liz to trial

Not the best picturees but...it shows how we started our day of herding. I got to the ranch and was going to let the dogs run and stretch their legs in the agility yard. All was right with the world. It all started out so nicely.



Here is the faintest hint of trouble to come...of course I did not pick up on it, but check it out everyone is running and Liz head spies something and turns...ever so slightly.


Next Liz peels off the group, and I am pretty slow, so I still have no clue what has been put into motion........I am really not up to the challenge of having a little Lizard dog.


Without a change of stride and with no hesitation she is under the fence and off to FREEDOME. CRAP! That was the last picture I took and I tell you I was in total shock when I figured out that an escape had indeed been made! The other dogs both looked at Liz with a mixture of shock and awe, I do not think they knew what to think.


FOUR sessions of recall classes, there is not a day in that dogs life I have not worked recalls, all the other dogs AND I are sitting in the one yard and what does that dog do? I was so totally shocked and thought we were beyond that.

What was horrible was that I thought she was totally loose, (this was at the other end of the yard which was a LONG way away from where I was..) I could not imagine how I was going to get her and the other dogs were running in the yard and had seen Liz run out, so Breeze has a little seperation anxiety, and Cricket is a pup, so did I go after Liz and leave them in the yard or get them and then take off on the chase and loose all that time?

I opted to put the dogs away, not knowing how long I would be chasing the escapee Lizard. I realized putting them away I did not have my keys in my pocket and the car had locked itself, REALLY? Dang car has been doing that and it is really, really annoying, and the worst thing was the last time I saw my keys was in the PORTA POTTY....yep you heard me right. The porta potty in all its glory.

A few minutes later I got the dogs into a pen that was at the side of the yard, and by then Liz had figured out she was in the big sheep pen and suprisingly she had not found a way out so she came over to the gate by me....whew! I was able to go into the agility yard and find my keys, thank heavens....crisis averted, or maybe not averted but cleaned up.

Breeze was an awesome herder, no big suprise there and got to go into the BIG FIELD. She is so awesome and so much better then I am and understands the whole thing better then I do.

Liz was a spazz....and when we got to work on our own I started experimenting with rewarding by releasing the pressure. A girl is doing this with the table in our agility class, they get the dog to get on the table and IMMEDIATELY release her and reward her by letting her get off and some people were talking about it for ring stress, by going in the ring, clicking and leaving and delivering a treat outside so not much we can mess up with Liz, so when she did a fetch I would immediately tell her good dog and to lie down, instead of asking her to do another fetch. I got her working a lot longer, so I really want to experiment with some of this and see if it helps her turn on.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Agility class super stars, ...well, sort of at least in my eyes!

Well, It FINALLY feels like we are getting somewhere in agility with the border collie gals.

After 4 years of training and recall classes, breaking things down, blah, blah, blah, you get the picture.... Liz had a great class this week. We walked in and they had rototiller the yard, bringing up all new smells and Liz acted like it was a totally new place. I could not get her head up,she was very distracted and stressed, I thought we were hosed for the night-and Deanna later told me she envisioned chasing Liz around the yard all night long.

The great thing that is happening with Liz is that she is loving agility enough that once I get her going boy she is just right on it, and does really well. When she is distracted like she was that night she has no tolerance for any mistakes, and when my feet indicated the wrong tunnel entrance and I tried to put her back in the tunnel she ran off and I had to chase her down...but once I got her back and threw her in the tunnel (well, now I did not throw her into the tunnel, I put her in front of it and let her go, LOL), she was spot on with the rest of the course.

Liz need a little maintance work on the teeter-she is not coming to the bottom and she did not stick her 2020 on the Aframe, but you know the big thing was she stayed with me even though she was really distracted-the rest of it is easy enough to fix at home.

Breeze had her class and wow, we ran all the courses without any mistakes, that has never happened, and this was a hard class, she is on fire. More then being on fire she looks physically terrific-Breeze is very happy spring and the warmer weather is here. I am thinking I will need to get my training, trialing, what ever I want to do in while the warm weather is around before winter next year.

We have had major weave issues and she got the entrances beautifully two times, so I did not attempt them the rest of the class, I just told Deanna that I did not want to do weaves again and we would just walk by them and start again after the weaves. I know we still have more work to do and I did not want to take a chance on having any mistakes after we had done so well.

THE BIG NEWS IS.....I feel pretty safe and happy with Breezie's contacts, of course they will always need to be worked on, but they are looking pretty safe I think. I KNOW when we trained the 4 on the floor Ann Croft had not come out with her modified training plan-which addresses the tendency of dogs to curl back to look at the handler ;-), so Breeze definitely does that...but to tell you the truth it is not affecting how it works, and when we are really running straight on a course, it straightens itself out. I am working on being able to run past, but Breeze is doing pretty good with waiting for her verbal release word. I am not silly enough to think that is strong enough right now to run past her and have her hold her position, but we are working on it, and it is coming along.

Excuse the mess in the yard, I have Crickets jump bumps set up and the kids had dragged a bunch of things in to the yard...time for a little agility yard spring cleaning!

Monday, April 12, 2010

MUD PUPPY!

Just a little rain last night,....just a tiny mud puddle,....just a few minuets outside and look what comes in.....how did she do that so well?

SHE IS GOOD!






Thursday, April 8, 2010

GAMBLERS---Who? Surely not us!

BREEZE: AKA SUPERSTAR!




COURSE FROM YESTERDAYS HANDLERS 3 CLASS-THE RED LINE IS THE LINE THE HANDLER IS SUPPOSED TO STAY BEHIND WHILE RUNNING THIS, YIKES, THAT LOOKS LIKE DISTANCE-WHO SIGNED UP FOR THAT?



Yesterday was Breeze's class, who will from this day forward be known as SUPERGIRL. I was so proud of my girl, she is so amazing and she knows so much more then I give her credit for. I got to class and found out the subject of the lesson was DISTANCE HANDLING AND TRAINING. I really thought about turning around and going home-I did not want to set my doggie up for failure and we have just started training any distance in just running a regular course. I run with Linda M's APHS, and it is a big no no to do things like Gamblers because it is so easy to disregard your motion cues and to untrain the handling you work so hard to teach. Anyway, to make a long story shorter...I decided to run and to just pay attention to what I was doing, make sure I was showing motion and not doing anything that would disregard my own signals and if necessary I would just cross the lines and do what I had to do to make it understandable for Breeze, who has done no layering and is a pretty inexperienced dog. That is what class is for right...to try out new things where you can fix them if you need to.

Well, first run through was a DISASTER. LOL, it was laughable. We were by far the WORST team out there, by far the worst. Whooo Hooo Deanna was able to step in and showed me how to use all the cues we already use and just extend them out a little-and then of course use proper reward placement (reward out away from me where I wanted her to know that is indeed where I wanted her to be). OMG, second run through it was gorgeous. The first two runs were just the part that had the teeter and the tire in it, and after I got that worked out the third time I ran the full course and was able to do the whole thing really well. I learned a HUGE lesson, to not let myself get wigged out looking at something and to just use our skills and settle down and just do our best.

I so feel really good about my decisions last night because I wanted to run the last time with the full course and not stop, I knew she could do it by that time and it would have been so much fun....but because this was all so new for Breeze and a few times Breeze made the right choice but she was not sure she had done right so I set up four points that I wanted Deanna to throw the ball and reward Breeze because I knew those would be the places she was not going to be totally sure she made the right decision even if she was able to do it. It was awesome, I did not get to run without stopping which I would have enjoyed...but it sure made it really clear for Breeze that she had made some TERRIFIC choices while we ran the course.


Some days I am just so amazed when I find out that my dogs know so much more then I give them credit for, especially Breeze. We still have so many things to work on and so many short falls, our list of items we need to train for would curl any ones hair,... but I am just so in awe of my little dog and all the things I keep finding out she can do. Whoo hoooo. I would have bet BIG MONEY that last nights class was going to be so totally over our heads....We were actually able to run the full course and never cross the lines....you could have knocked me over with a feather!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

So similiar and yet........




TWO DOGS
Both border collies
Both females
Both spayed
Both roughly the same size
Both roughly the same age-born within six months of each other
Both have been doing agility the exact same amount of time
Both trained by the same person who of course had the same knowledge with each of them or lack of knowledge, WHAT EVER! But you get the idea, the same trainer with the same level of skill was used to train both of them
Both trained with the EXACT same methods
Both trained at the same places, with the same instructors

Yep, you would think that running either dog would pretty much interchangeable with running the other dog. Perhaps you would expect very similar plans to run either dog....I would expect some very similar problems, you know some of the same training holes and strengths being they were both trained by the same person-everyone has strengths and holes, right??

WELL, let me tell you the truth--I feel like I have no chance, I am seriously going to be messed up! Those two girls are just as different as night and day and who knows how I will ever really "gel" with either one and feel like I just read their mind, like we are one out there. I have heard that babies that grow up in bilingual homes are later to talk, and it takes longer for them to learn either language but all of a sudden they will be able to do both and end up further ahead of their single language counterparts one day....I can only hope that working with two such different dogs works that way for me, I will look retarded for a long while but I keep hoping it will be awesome when we finally do it, and I am seeing some glimpses of hope for myself, LOL. Just glimpses though.

I did a class with both dogs,...that is the first time in months I have done a class with both of them. Right off the start line, Lizzie went over a jump that was very angled, then turned and went through a tire where I could do a front cross, then over another angled jump into a tunnel--easy smeezie, and made me look like a pro. Next same sequence and Breeze could not go over a first jump at a big angle with me further on down the line, so I had to stay back and babysit that jump...which left me way too late for the front cross, and silly me, I got so stuck thinking of Lizzie's plan I did not even consider a rear cross, DUH. So then we have this 270 where there had to be a cross right after the 270. Breeze does that like a pro and I can slide across laterally to catch the front cross as I am supporting her out in the pocket, whew, that looked nice. Liz's turn and she could not stand me moving while she was out in the pocket so I had to wait and do a rear cross afterwards. Next going into the weaves....Breeze could NOT handle a rear cross because it makes her pay just a little too much handler focus and she misses the entrance because we are having some trouble with those, so I needed to get in place for a front cross for that. Liz loved the rear cross and the freedom to just run ahead of me, that really HELPED her catch the entry. At the end of the weaves Breeze needed a front cross to transition her to handler focus to get her past the entrance to a tunnel and the aframe and get her in the right end of the tunnel. Liz did so much better just decelerating and pushing her to the right end of the tunnel. The whole class continued like that, with both girls needing almost opposite plans. Both with such different challenges and weaknesses.

Anyway, you get the idea-they are sooo opposite and I was just slapped in the face with all the differences last night running one after another. I am keeping them straight and doing some of that already, but gosh I do not know how in a trial when you get one try I will ever keep those girlies straight.

Second class of the night I brought Cricket for some socializing. YIKES, she is a scary one, nailing everyone with her jumping. I was able to finally get her to settle and do some good work, so it all ended good, but she can sure be over the top when we walk in the gate.

Breeze ATE my jacket, a HUGE hole when I put my jacket over her crate so she would not freak out when Liz ran. YIKES, I should have known better, but now my new jacket is toast unless I want to wear it with a huge hole in the middle of my back....OOOH BREEZE!!! That was sooo naughty!

I was at the yard and in classes for almost 4 hours between all the dogs last night and I was so tired after dealing with all that border collie energy all afternoon, LOL.

This afternoon will seem like a vacation because Breeze has her class, and only Breeze gets to go today.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

ALMOST twins!

Twin B Cricket




Twin A Lizzie-

The only reason this is funny is that I think Lizzie and Cricket look as different as night and day. One is obviously a baby, and one a full grown dog, one is black and white with a lot of black on her face, one is red/white with a ton of white and a split face, one has shorter straight hair and Lizzie looks like she got a perm.

I have taken both girls out at least two times a day to a public place lately, Liz because she is working on just staying calm and loose leash walking and reducing her stress/excitement level out in public, and Cricket because she seems to be going through a little fear period-not with people but with some places so I am getting her out with no pressure and just letting her say HI to lots of people because that keeps her happy and relaxed.

Well, it has happened soooo many times in the past few days....I stop and talk with a lot of people and the dogs do their tricks, Cricket jumps all over everyone...you get the picture. I take the dogs in one at a time..take one to the car and switch dogs then go back in and work again with the opposite dog. Well, inevitably people come up to talk to me again a second time, talk to the dog (which by now is the other dog from the one they have already met...), eventually about half of them get a little bit of a puzzled look and say this is the same dog isn't it? LOL.

I am sure I would do the same thing if I was in their place, but it just reminds me of that experiment they do where they set up a "crime" and then ask people what they saw and they usually are pretty inaccurate, and it is so funny because it has happened so many times the past few days.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Videos from AKC nationals...

One day these might be our runs....but not today for sure! I found some of the highlights from the AKC nationals. I was in and out of the house too much that weekend to subscribe to get the feeds so I was excited to find some of the winning runs that I had wanted to see. I loved watching how they all got that last tunnel entrance, even though most of the handlers were behind, and the last runner, Daisy Peel and Solor, she is my hero being able to get out there and get a FRONT CROSS into that last tunnel entrance, YIKES! I would have died attempting that, LOL.

The winning runs of the AKC Nationals in the regular class.




Congrats to Breeze's brother Blink who got forth in the 24 inch finals-way to go Blink and Tracy. Tracy owns Breeze's dad Blew and has been so terrific in the past helping me learn handling and even used to have me over for practice sessions and really helped me out when I was first training Breeze. Tracy and Blink won 2nd in jumpers out of 82 dogs to make the finals, yippie! It was really to see how terrific they did. Breeze says YOU GOOOO BROO!


Also Congrats to Breeze's litter mate Zing handled by Gabrielle B who made the finals-way to go!