Wednesday, October 24, 2012


The puppies turned 4 weeks old yesterday and boy are they getting to be full of it.  I got a tug game yesterday with Fig and Peanut during our little one on one play sessions and Raisin is a little imp....she just dotes on me, she just acts like it is the best thing in the world just to hang with me-I hate that she does that and love it at the same time.  MUST STAY STRONG!!!!  A puppy is not in the plan yet. 

Today I woke up to a very sweet, happy, bouncy proud of herself little Raisin prancing around the living room with the big dogs.  WHAT??????  HOW COULD THAT BE?

I scooped up the little princess and put her in her pen.  The pen is fairly tall and does not have good footholds.  I had rigged up a PVC doorway for Cherry that is 16 inches tall so she could go in and out and doesn't get stuck with the pups when they get to be too much but I want her to be with them when she wants.  I lined the inside of my door with vinyl pet screen thinking the little darlings would not be able to use it like a ladder that way and thought between the screening and the height we would get no first out of the box puppies.

I love the naughty, CHEEKY puppy and the first out of the box is generally my pick.  ;-).  Hummm, I knew when I saw Raisin dancing around so happy with herself we had had a first out of the box puppy, LOL, but hoped it was not true!  I put Raisin back in the box and she was SOOOOOOO MAD!  She had a screaming fit but then was happy to repeat her performance.  She has not yet learned that you should wait until everyone is gone so you can go undetected!



Once out Raisin had a hiddey ho time running with her mom and Cricket.  She liked being one of the big dogs and sure did not seem to mind being in the big house by herself.  What a nut. 
Guess we all know my day now includes another trip to the hardware store for some more PVC parts to improve my little gate.....sigh....I knew I bought extra pipe last time for some reason!
I have to apologize, I want so much to get around to everyones blog and catch up on what has been going on with everyone, sorry it is taking so long!  I really am so excited to sit and be able to catch up.  Soon I am going to have a lot of time on my hands I think!


Monday, October 22, 2012


Since the pups have been staying with me and Karen their owner was nice enough to let me continue to  keep/play with the puppies after she got back from her trip...I have got a golden opportunity to try all the things I have been reading about to raise puppies that I have previously only been able to read about. 

One of the best DVDs and books I have found is Jerry Hopes "The Breeders Guide to Raising Superstar Dogs".  I think it would be a cool book or DVDs for anyone considering getting a dog to read so you know what you should look for if you are getting a puppy for your next dog. 

Research shows that with a few simple things you can increase the neural pathways and the intelligence of a puppy and you can make their immune system stronger and make them able to withstand more stress and recover more easily in later life.  I personally think the first eight weeks of a puppies life is very important.  Of course genetics of the parents, how the parents are cared for, the stress the mom is under, the diet of the parents and of the pups, all those things play a big part in determining all a puppy is able to become too. 

So with Cherry's pups I started when they were 3 days old and did the ENS, early neuro stimulation for 14 days.  The ENS program is only done once a day and for only 14 days.  It is surprisingly easy to do....the first step is just taking a Q tip and rubbing in between the dogs toes for three to five seconds.  Right after that you securely hold the pup with their head straight up in the air for three to five seconds, then you securely hold the pup and put their head down for three to five seconds, then you put the pup on their back for three to five seconds and then put them down on a cloth that has been in the fridge a few hours, you leave them on it but they can wiggle or move all they want for three to five seconds.  I did the ENS with the daily weight at the same time each morning then gave the pups to Cherry to nurse so the minimal stress of the ENS was followed by something great.

Pups are born not being able to see or hear.  About the same time the eyes are opening-around 2 weeks the pups are also starting to hear.  When the pups could start hearing I started playing classical music which has been shown to increase neural pathways in the brain.  Any music works but classical seems to work best probably because of the nature of the different instruments and the tunes.  As time went on I added DVDs with sounds, vacuums, babies, kids, fireworks, gunshots, dogs. I also had the pups moved to the living room where they would be surrounded by the household dogs, the kids, and all the noises of a home. 

So that is basically the starting point of raising puppies to be superstars ;-).  Another HUGE thing is spending time with the whole litter, talking to the pups, and playing with them and cuddling them, touching them so they are used to being touched and handled.  That is one of the funnest parts and it is important to spend some time with each puppy individually. 

OF COURSE the biggest thing to keep in mind with early learning in my opinion is just spending time with the pup and having fun.  The goal is not that the dog can compete in obedience at 2 months, LOL, it is that the dog has fun with people and wants to learn more and looks to their person for fun!  You accomplish that and you are so far ahead of the game.  These pups have taught me they have their own agendas and they are very tiny THREE WEEK old babies with baby attention spans!  Ya gotta not pressure and go with what the puppy wants to do, a good lesson to remember when working with my adults too! 

I took some video of the early learning of each of the puppies, and of course I had to video.  It does not look that impressive and mostly I am luring the pups to sit, down, touch the target stick, and they do naturally come pretty well when placed away from you.  I just basically hope it is laying the foundation for the pups to be figuring out what people want, figuring out it is fun to work with your human partner and hopefully making it fun to play with me so they will look to their new human owners for those things when they go to their new homes.  :-).  PLEASE do not feel obligated to look at them all, I just posted so you could look at what you want ;-). 

Friday, October 19, 2012


Hey, sorry, it has been a long time since my life got turned upside down and boy, what a summer and Autumn.  First off I have to say I love my blogger life and my blogging friends have been so much a part of my life, following what they are doing and talking about what we are up to but when I hurt my leg and doing agility was out of the question and it got hard to even do most training with my felt funny talking about the dogs, not much was going on....and it was a little easier to stay away I guess.  SOOOO I hope I can keep what has been going on short, but still catch everyone who has wondered where we were up.

After Spring agility camp...way back when ....I had injured my leg, I know I tore my meniscus- the cushioning behind the knee cap, and torn some tendons or ligaments -who knows what because the doctors don't seem concerned about that, because of injuries I had when I was a kid and when I broke my knee a few years ago the knee is in such bad shape they say fixing anything is out of the question, the only thing to do is to do a knee replacement.  Well, when I finally got to see a specialist he agreed my knee NEEDS a knee replacement and there is nothing else to do but he said he highly recommended I not get one because I was too young and it could potentially need to be redone twice more at least in my life time.  That was devastating news because I really cant walk much and it impacts not just agility but my daily life a LOT!  So the first specialist injected some hyalurine acid into the knee, OUCH, which after a few weeks worked well enough that I did not have to use a cane but it only lasted a few weeks.  I was referred to a specialist specialist, hahahaha, because the specialist said my case was too complicated for him.  It took 2 months to get into the specialist, specialist, but I have an appointment next Friday!  I have come to the point where I have really decided living now is what I have to insist on, and I will worry about the future when I have to, so I just wonder how long it will take to schedule the knee replacements if it takes two months to even see this surgeon. 

Along with hobbling around I started water aerobics, which has been heaven and I really enjoy-it has helped me lose 25 lbs as of this morning!!!!  yippie!!!

As far as the dogs we all had a full summer of just hanging out and being dogs ;0!  It has been hard on Cricket, the lack of exercise but she has been a trooper.  A thousand things I could have trained or done to keep them active but...I just needed to shift gears a little for awhile ;-)  

At the end of the summer a great opportunity came up.  A friend of mine, Breezes breeder who owns Cherry...the same Cherry that lived her for quite awhile a few years back....had to be out of town when Cherry was going to whelp a litter.  She asked if I would take care of Cherry and her pups.  It has been great, and has kept me very busy and having a lot of fun.  Cherry had her six pups 3 weeks ago. 

These are the babies at 3 weeks old: 
Newton Blue Merle Boy-the biggest guy:
Raisin-black tri girl
Fig-black tri girl who LOVES  me, LOL!
Doodles-black tri girl-an explorer
Krisp-black tri female-always the first up playing and the last to go to sleep, very playful right now
Peanut-about half the size of the other guys but sooo cute and playful-he holds his own!
I have been trying to do all the fun stuff I have read about to enhance early learning with the pups.  I did the early neuro stimulation to increase their brain power, played classical music which increases neuro pathways, let them watch the flickering lights from the TV which increases their neural pathways in the brain and spend a lot of time talking to them and changing their environment around, I make sure each gets some alone time with me/us and I spend a lot of time with them as a group.  It is soooo much fun to watch them.  Here is their pen, I have it set up so they are in the middle of the living room and in  the middle of life in the home, there is a little bedding area, then a potty area--and at three weeks they are doing great going in the potty area...then there is an area with toys, and perfect for play. 

Here are the puppies playing from yesterday morning:

HERE IS THE CRICK STAR-she is awesome with everyone, small puppies to big dogs, to any people she meets, can not say how much I love this girlie! LOL!
ANYWAY, so that is what we have been up to in a nutshell, hope to catch up on everyone as quickly as i can, thanks to everyone for wading through this long post and thanks for everyone who has always been out there for me and gave me so much support over the years!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Just checking in with everyone always means a lot!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What Makes a GREAT Coach?

It is blog action day again and the subject of today's blogs is what makes a good instructor/coach?

Being a good procrastinator I put off my blog post until the last minute, then what seemed to be such an easy topic did not seem so easy to write about. ;-) I have been very lucky to work with quite a few people that have been really great instructors but What does make a really good dog agility coach. I thought about how I would want to say a great coach keeps up on new trends in courses and handling, but might not necessarily jump on the bandwagon for every new trend. I might point out that a great coach makes things fun, that they have an ability to look at each team and find a way to build on their particular strengths. I could talk about how a good coach is like a good dog trainer and knows when to set you up for success to help you grow your confidence and knows when to challenge a team.

All of those things go into being a great coach or instructor, but when I thought of my own journey and what Dr. Phil would call those important life changing moments -the moments that leave a huge mark on our souls and that we will always remember and keep playing over and over in our minds, the things that really impact our moment came up for me that impacted and symbolized so many things for me ;-). ahhhhh, haaaaa, thinking of that I knew what I wanted to share with you all!!

I have been so lucky to have one truly great instructor or coach that made so many things possible for me. I looked on youtube and thank heavens I do have a moment that symbolizes what this instructor did for me. This is my very first AKC trial with Breeze in 2009. At the very end is my good friend and instructor yelling for me and Breeze, and you can tell she was running that course with us ;-). Her voice just says it all, that might have been just an ok run, but it was like I won the Olympics- ;-)

I was so lucky to have been able to work with Alicia Nicholas. She made me feel like all things were possible for me and I could do anything. She challenged me and made me feel respected. When she moved away at first I thought I would be lost doing agility but the attitude she inspired in me made it possible for me to train my next dog all by myself. I wish I had more of her yelling at the end of my video because I just can not convey all that that meant to me, but gosh I wish for all of you to have a great instructor at some point in your agility career that believes in you and is truly as excited for you as they would be for themselves, someone who inspires you, gets irritated at you when you could do better and who gets why agility seems so important to you!

Kathy Mocharnuk with CP Blew Breeze/ Leapin' Liz/ Hillcrest Quick as a Cricket

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Moving on.....

I feel like I keep getting some of the same lessons in life but louder and louder, LOL! One of the lessons has been about taking better care of myself. I sort of feel like I am getting it, maybe...finally???

After going to the chiropractor and bursting out bawling where I could not stop I knew it was time to get it together and find things I could do to feel in control, and things I found fun since it feels like most of the things I do like have been put on hold. I started weight watchers and have lost 9 lbs and started doing water aerobics. The water aerobics is fabulous, I feel so good in the water and move so easily. Who knew, EXERCISE that is the high point of my day!

The last few weeks I met some of the nicest people-I must have the "look" because I have had so many people come up to me EVERYWHERE and ask what I did to myself. There have been a lot of people that have came up to tell me they had knee replacements and tell me their experiences, it has been really cool to get such great support from people I don't even know. I have got some horror stories about the pain right after surgery and the rehab but everyone has said they were so happy they did it. That makes me feel good!

In the middle of all this we have had to replace the flooring in our house. I am so excited to have tile in almost the whole house now, with the dogs I think that is going to be so much easier to keep clean and the current carpet is 17 years old, it smells and has holes. The down side is that it is something else trying to move everything, YIKES!!!

Here is a picture of what my tile should look like.....


My little nut Cricket swimming. She is so funny she always has to have a toy in her mouth and could obsessively swim in circles for hours I think ;-).

Monday, July 30, 2012

Ice packs and knee bling--perhaps pretty common things in agility!


Because what active dogs or active owners do not occasionally need these?

I find that when you are icing yourself or your dog on a regular basis you need a lot of ice packs so you can have some freezing while you are using one.

You know I love DIY, so with all that has been going on with my knees and I have Breeze who is a dysplastic dog, thought I would share how to make some cool ice packs.

METHOD ONE:pictured above...
Take 1 part rubbing alcohol + 3 part water. (that would be like a cup alcohol to 3 cups water) You can adjust and may prefer 1 cup rubbing alcohol to 2 cups water, but I like the 3:1 ratio.

Take the alcohol and water plus some food color, so that you know not to drink this... and put into a zip lock bag, and put that bag into a second bag so it is double bagged. If you have a food saver, I think that would be PERFECT!!!!

The trick is that if you like the slushiness this produces you are good to go, if you want your ice pack harder put in less alcohol and more water. The alcohol is what keeps your ice pack from freezing into a hard ice cube. If you want a softer ice pack do the opposite and put in more alcohol and less water. I like it a bit slushy when it is ready so that it conforms around the body area you are trying to ice. Put the whole thing in the freezer a couple of hours and you are good to go!

Method 2:Get cheap gel liquid detergent from say the dollar store. Fill a ziplock bag about 3/4 full, seal and freeze.

It took me a bit of time to post about what happened at the orthopedic clinic but I was waiting to be in a good frame of mind ;-) but somehow.....that isn't coming that fast!!!!

One thing is during agility camp the last day I felt like such a Wuss! One of the instructors was doing her best to hide her irritation but I know she was irritated just how slow I was going. I know I am slow but I was surprised at how much trouble I had, it really bummed me out.

Good news is I am not a wuss!!! I am thinking I was a trooper!!!!! Seems my left knee has a torn ligament and the right knee has a torn meniscus! No wonder I could not run, even though I really was trying ;-). I feel stupid now for not just sitting down and admitting I could not do it!

Anyway, the two comments I got the minute they looked at my knee xrays was, "WOW!, that is about as bad as it gets!" and "WOW, most 80 year olds have better knees" WHAT???? I do not think those are good comments!!!! hahahahah.

Seems normally they would do arthroscopic surgery on both knees but the doctor said because of the damage to the knees it was not an option. My left knee with the torn ligament is collapsing on itself when I walk,it has no cartilage left and the right knee with the torn meniscus has a tiny layer of cartilage but no cartilage between the knee cap and the bone.

So what do they plan? Looks like they are recommending a knee replacement of BOTH knees. I so wish I could find my Clean Run with the article about knee replacements but of course, I can not find it for the life of me!

It all sure explains why I have been getting slower and stiffer and stiffer, although right before the injury the knees felt better then they have in years, WEIRD!

So this is Kaiser and my appointment with the surgeon is August 29 when I am sure the plan will take better shape but the doctor said it will probably be four months wait to get it handled. The recovery time sounds like maybe 6 months plus or minus until I might be able to possibly do agility????? If I could find my article from Clean Run maybe I would have more answers ;-).

Worried about my doggie and where we will be by the time I can run again and worried about keeping everyone happy and occupied, day by day, right????

In the meantime, I have to have two hinged knee braces, and a cane, and lots of ice and being careful.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Bargains ......and a little rant ;-)

Rejoining the "real world" can be rough. I posted my video to youtube and found our my REPLY button to reply to comments will not work. How weird is that?

Being on the injured list has opened up some new experiences..I am not one that get to some of the discount stores that often, but I have been bored and shopping more so I stopped in to a Marshall's see if they had some cheap beds/crate pads for the dogs car crates.

Check out what great bargains I found:

I can finally get the dogs to the park every day so I tested this Chuck it type of toy, the chucker works OK..I could tell these were cheap balls and I would not let my dogs chew on them too much, but it was too funny that the first time I threw the ball Cricket came back with it deflated on one side of the ball. OH MY!

Second throw of the ball the other side was deflated and the ball was no longer usable, LOL There was a second ball that got lost in the field,..I did not bother to look for it. A cheap version of a real chuck it,but at half the price, it will do for today, after I find some other balls to use with it.

second bargain:

This disc thing is really soft, and red, and was about $7. It was cool! It flies good, Cricket was chewing it but did not put a mark on it,when she runs it folded up and did not get in her way. The red color was easy to see on the grass, I am getting more of these!!!

With the chuck it today I noticed Cricket is used to low flying objects to play fetch. She does not look at me and track the toy, she waits until she sees the toy whizzing by her. The chuck it was a crack up because I kept throwing the ball high, because I can not throw, it was not on purpose, but Cricket would stand in readiness until she heard the ball bounce, she kept expecting it to whizz by and it did not, so she spent a lot of time looking for the ball. LOL

The greatest bargain I got were some Merrell barefoot technology shoes. I love my Vibram toes shoes for agility, and I have a pair of blue/black Merrill's I use for all my everyday wear. My poor Merrill's are looking old, so when I found TWO PAIRS OF MERRILL'S for less then one pair usually costs me, I was all over that!!!! Just a shame they had my favorite style on clearance, but none in my size, so I have some VERY BRIGHT shoes to wear with shorts, but hey people will see me coming ;-).

Tomorrow is an appointment with the Orthopedic clinic. I am going to complain for a second. I have Kaiser insurance and I feel like we pay a lot to have it. When I got hurt I went to Kaiser after a few weeks of not getting better. I saw a physicians assistant, and of course he said you need to see a specialist. FIVE WEEKS later I have finally got in to see someone at the ortho clinic. Five weeks was how long it took when I said I would take the first available appointment,anytime that was open. When I got the appointment card I look and I am seeing another physicians assistant. REALLY? My friend just got hurt Saturday, a knee injury, she saw a specialist on Monday, had a cortisone shot and got an MRI today. Some days I have to say I really do not love Kaiser, ;-). If they want me to get an MRI who knows how long that will take? YEP, I need people to wish me some luck, hahaha!

Monday, July 23, 2012


I'm still here, I have not fallen off the earth or been abducted my aliens, LOL!

I actually have just had the worst year for accidents and injuries, earlier this year I broke my foot and then several weeks ago I really did a number on my knee. My poor dogs have been stuck in the house, I can't take them out to play or hike, and agility has been out of the question-I miss all that sooo much! Nothing to put a person into a depression like their doctor suggesting they use a CANE!-well, nothing except trying said cane and finding out I really couldn't walk without it, OUCH!!! That sent me spiraling into a depression-well maybe not a depression, just into a period of quiet ;-). I sort of feel like I needed a bit of a quiet time.

Thank heavens things are starting to be better, I still am about as slow as a turtle but I have felt like rejoining the world, so I am trying to catch up with blogs and get back in touch with my blogging friends as quickly as I can.

Let me tell you I firmly believe all situations have something to teach us and through this whole chapter in my life I have learned to take better care of myself and to really cherish my health. For YEARS my dogs have had chiropractic adjustments, laser light therapy and massages, WELL I have been doing those things for myself, a little late to start but really nice and helpful none the less. I know now why Breeze co operates so well with her therapy, it is nice to be a little pampered.

So here is a little video I did of our first trip back to the park. I could not tug or run around but at least the girls could play fetch. Check out how Cricket understands you don't take Breezes' toy when we play fetch so she holds her toy in her mouth and pretends she is fetching Breezes toy. LOVE how my dogs work it out and get along so well. Not to worry, if we all tug around each other Cricket tugs and Breeze sits back and chews on her ball. Of course I can put Breeze in a down and let Cricket fetch or put Cricket in a down and let Breeze tug, but some days it is just more fun to let them play the game they have worked out .

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

My Friend Who Helped Shape My Attitude ;-)

Taken from facebook--photo by Bark Talk

Well, it is blog action day again and the topic this time is ATTITUDE.

OMG what a topic! I have so many thoughts and opinions about attitude.....but I have been thinking for days and was having trouble deciding what to talk about without sounding like I have that area covered, I think most of us know the type of attitude we aspire too, but bad attitude or misplaced priorities sneaks up on us all when we least are aware of it.

I finally decided I would share an experience that I hope will always profoundly affect me and I hope will always help to shape how I view any time I walk in the ring with my doggies. This experience has helped me be way less judgemental about my performances, although of course I always strive to do the best I can and made me appreciate my doggies so much more. It makes it easier for me to meet my goal of finding several things to be EXCITED about with each run.

A few years ago I had a very good friend, her name was Carol and she did agility here in Southern California with her cattledog JC. Carol was just starting agility when I was starting agility with my sheltie Chloe. We ended up in classes together many a time and Carol was a very driven person which did not fit well with the local agility club so her and I found ourselves on the outside a lot of times. Eventually we drifted together and ended up spending many an hour talking about agility, handling, training etc. Carol was always FANTASTIC about building my confidence and telling me what I could do. She is responsible for me having the courage and confidence to go ahead and try teaching agility which had always been a dream of mine. Carol inspired me to think that I could do well at agility and helped me not just look at the list of reasons why I might have trouble but to really see my strenths. It is always so cool when you find people willing to help you have confidence. Not that it was always easy sailing, Carol was opinionated sometimes and a perfectionist with herself, so we did butt heads a few times, but overall we had a lot of fun.

Carol had bonded very deeply with her dog JC and in fact her latest grandchild ended up being named after her dog. Only dog people would understand that ;-). JC was amazing and Carol loved to show her off, JC was trained to do pretty much what any service dog could do, just because Carol loved to teach her tricks. When ever you saw Carol you could bet JC would be close by.

Carol started to have some memory problems, and problems swallowing and speaking so she went into the doctors. The answer to what was happening was devastating. Carol had ALS and it was affecting the upper half of her body first, alarmingly fast she was having trouble swallowing food, she slurred quite a bit and had trouble moving her left arm. Carol had just got to Excellent B with JC and she was really proud-as she should have been because JC was lightning fast, very well trained, and her and Carol had a bond like very few people have with their dogs. Not long after the diagnosis Carol entered JC in what was to be her last trial. I went with Carol to help her out, I was not competing but I walked the courses with her and helped come up with a plan.

Right before it was time to run the course Carol turned to me and asked me to run JC. Carol was not hurting she just felt I would have a better chance qualifying. I am a RN and I had a feeling that Carol would not be running JC many more times, and I knew things were going to get harder so in a decision that will haunt me I said I will if you really, really don't want to run JC i would run her for you but she wants to run with you. Carol still felt she was going to beat the disease so I do not think she had the feeling of urgency-it had not crossed her mind that this could be one of her last runs. I figured with their bond and communication even with Carols illness they would do ok. Of course if Carol was in pain or I thought she would be hurt I would have LOVED to run JC. JC is lightening fast and fun.

Carol went out and ran JC and of course did not qualify, but she came close and I know JC was smiling that day. As it turned out that was the last time Carol was able to do agility. I had tried to find her an instructor that did NADAC and was willing to work with Carol so she could still run JC but Carols illness progressed too quickly for that to be possible. JC was retired from agility and became much more then an agility dog, she became Carols service dog and very rarely ever left her side. JC would fetch the phone, or pick things up, close doors, fetch other things Carol needed and she was always there to provide comfort.

I believe it was about 18 months from when Carol learned her diagnosis until her struggle here on earth was over.

The reason I thought of that story when the subject of our blogs is attitude is that Carol was a person that really understood about supporting and empowering her friends. She always wanted to be the center of attention but she still wanted her friends to feel good about themselves. I wish I had been there more for Carol the last few months but knowing Carol changed me. I really miss her a lot.

I think the other thing I wanted to say is that just as JC and my own dogs do not care if we get lots of Q's and personally when I have to run my last run hobbling over the finish line with my walker, lol, I hope what will matter to me is how I have grown learning to handle competition and how I have learned not to give up practicing new skills and learning how to work better with my puppy team mates. I get sad seeing some friends who turn their dogs over to people that might be slightly better handlers, because "friends" tell them someone could do better :-(. How about pointing out how well you are doing with your dog, or helping you build more skills or pointing you to a mental management course or book, I am so glad I had a friend who kept reminding me that I could when I was not sure :-). Of course there are always people who might do it better, that is sure true with my dog, but that ignores what the whole journey is about to me.

It is fun to embrace competition but geeze let's not be so serious that we forget at the basic level, this should be about learning, growing, connecting with our team mate and our community. We never know when our last run or our dogs last run will be so try to keep it all in perspective and just have fun!

Check out more links to blogs for our action day at

Friday, June 1, 2012


Well, thought perhaps I would just go through some of the advice and comments I was given at Spring Camp.......I will do a post on the type of rear crosses-just still getting caught up at home after camp=I got a new freezer and went the day after camp and got 400 lbs of meat to fill it, LOL, I never do anything half way, so I have been dealing with all of that ;-) and trying to get my legs to work again.
Our seminar presenters were Karen Hollick, Daisy Peel and Jenn Crank. These are not direct quotes but what was generally said, of course my interpretation.

Karen at the start of the seminar.
Wow, I really like this dog, you have an awesome dog...
Just a helpful hint when you get a SFL (straight freakin line for those uninitiated) try to start out more laterally from your dog so you can run slightly toward their line so when they perceive you are slowing down because they are getting further and further ahead they feel you pushing on their line so they are less likely to turn around looking for you.
you might want to work on sends.
You might want to work on sends

Next session with Jen:
for forward sends I need to turn into my dog sooner
turn into my dog sooner for a forward front cross
Jen laughing-Yep your dog was right to yell at you, you were way late, with this dog you can stand still in the middle of a forward cross and she will still drive toward you just as fast....
work on more independence on the leadout.

Karen again:
You need to work on sends (it was changing from her light you might need to work on sends to -you NEED to work on sends)
BEAUTIFULLY trained Aframe (after we did a gorgeous rear cross of the aframe followed by a backside jump)
This next comment was delivered in a hopeful tone....
You don't have a running dog walk too do you? (a definite look of relief when I said NO, we stop on that)
Get to love rear crosses, Karen says she mostly uses rear crosses and they will be my friend ;-)
YOU NEED TO WORK ON SENDS this was probably repeated at least ten times.....

I can tell you have been working on distance work too much, you dog is doing too many sends.

A lot of PLEASE WORK ON SENDS comments
then saying that for MY handling system I may need to add as many directionals as I can.....GO, GO ON, LEFT, RIGHT, CIK, so we can have tools until I get way better at figuring out how to get there.
Karen said don't feel bad this dog is crazy fast and a sixteen year old Olympic sprinter would have trouble keeping up....LOL, that may or may not be true but Cricket is fast and that comment made me feel better ;=)

we were doing a zig zag exercise and Cricket would go around odd jumps.
Jen said this seemed like a dog that is very stimulated by movement and has a very high desire to CHASE. So when Alicia who was running her in that exercise got way ahead Cricket would work to go around a jump so that she could try to catch her. Explains some of the problems we have with some lead outs
LUCKILY I do not get ahead of Cricket very often, much less way ahead, but she does loose her mind if she thinks she is way behind.

So do you think we need to work on sends? I think that gives you an idea of our weaknesses we were seeing over the weekend, LOL.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


I am at the hotel using my ipad and I have not figured out how to use the app so I can post pictures, so no pictures today, sorry ;-(.

I am having so much fun. Spring Agility Camp is here in Murrietta, CA, just north of San Diego. The venue is where I have done several seminars in the past and it is gorgeous. There are three groups of ten people working and a few auditors. One group is just with baby or new dogs working just on foundation and the rest of us are in two groups that rotate doing half the day with skills and drills-learning specific skills on smaller sequences designed for us to use those skills, then we go to a full course where we put the skills into practice. Each day has a specific focus and day 1's focus is on using motion appropriately.

Our first session was with Karen Hollick -doing skills and drills. We worked on the 4 different type of rear crosses and then worked on forward moving front crosses. First off I want to say up front it was so fantastic because this is the first lesson or working with anyone that I did not get a mention one time during the WHOLE day reminding me how fast my dog is and how slow I am ;-). I loved it first I worked really hard to move and I have been doing the John Cullens Fleet Feet practicing ;-), and second maybe the courses were set up so some places were really hard to get there-where I needed ro be.....but I was able to do it. It is a drag and discouraging and really not a help to my self imagine when people do that, like people, trust me I am aware of that situation, ;-). So anyway this whole day did so much to help my confidence that we can do it, I left feeling very proud of myself and my dog.

One of the huge things I got from the first lesson was how to handle the dreaded SFL's. What is an SFL? a STRAIGHT FREAKIN' LINE! When you have a fast dog and slower handler (most of us) if your dog is going to overtake and pass you then as they get further and further ahead they are likely to turn to see where you are, possibly spin, possibly get a refusal . So Karen pointed out that I need to look at places Cricket will be passing me and work to start out further away laterally and then converge on her line going forward, moving like in a V toward her so that the extra pressure helps her know she is on the right path and discourage her from spining back to me. I look for those in long courses but we were doing a speed circle, so just a simple jump, jump, tunnel, jump, jump, tunnel, jump, jump, tunnel--designed to get a lot of speed and be fun but I was getting some look back when Cricket got way ahead.

I worked really hard on not giving up at the end of a course and slowing down, which really helps Cricket (yea, yea, yea, or any dog!) hahahahha, of course I knew that, but I can be a bit lazy and will stop without driving to the last obstacle ;-) I admit it!!!

One thing I have been thinking about lately is watching like the WAO's and doing the Fleet Feet program to move better in agility there is a lot of sideways movements, and backwards movements and getting down to put your hand in your dogs vision. Karen talked about how to bend your knees and get down to where your dog can see your cues. She also showed how if you raise your hands too high you can see how your shoulders start to rotate. If you stand looking at yourself in a mirror and raise your hand out front and just keep raising it you will see your shoulders starting to open up which can give your dog signals you did not intend.

One of my legacies of where I started agility training has been that I used to have really BAD rear crosses. Cricket learned them correctly, where I have my shoulders faceing the jump then I step behind her for motion toward her and then maybe step back or turn. The bad way I learned was where I use my arm to lead the dog forward and turn my shoulders, it is a hard habit to break and it sends my dog either really wide or spinnning on the landing side of the jump. I usually revert back to my bad RC when I get nervous. I have been working on that for awhile and knew what to do but for some reason boy the reason I should do them like that has become so much clearer.

ANYWAY, Cricket did so good, she had the tightest little turns and was having such fun and running so well.....after our last run Karen looked at us and said "boy, that is an awesome little dog" ;-) It left me grinning ear to ear!

Next we worked with full courses with Jen Crank. OMG, LOVE her as an instructor. She really talked in each instance about say this particular type of rear cross, how many of the six basic cues would be forward cues and how many would be turning cues. WHY did that start really hitting home yesterday? hummm, I do not know but it was making it all clearer and easier to figure out.

The biggest thing I got from her that pertains to my team-TEAM CRiCKET- is something called PERCEIVED DECELERATION. This is when your dog might come up to your side and pass you and gets in front of you and keeps getting further and further ahead of you. At some point esp with a brand new dog that has not learned about this the dog THINKS you are decelerating and acts accordingly-turning around to find you, stopping, barking, what ever. You are not going slower but to the dog it seems you are. She said the absolute WORST thing you can do when your dog is doing this is it stop. No matter where the course goes or what you have to do you should continue going straight and driving ahead so the dog is reassured that if mom is running behind you and pumping her arms, you can keep going, she really isn't getting left behind. If you stop and then your dogs curls back to you, you reward, the dog thinks, yep that was a decel and I did GOOD. ;-)
So there was once where Cricket did that and she was between my feet, so safety has to factor in but I need to remember to keep driving ahead ;-). It was funny too when Jen really put the pressure on us, hey, make that happen and I don't want to see any refusals right there, even I did better at pushing and it worked.

Anyway, as far as skills, boy our contacts were everything I dreamed of, we had some problems with popping out at pole 11 when I was trying to pull of laterally one time, but she was rocking some fantastic entries and after the first sequence she did great weaves. Her running aframe was just looking great-yippie!

On the bad side boy she was a nut. Cricket is sure every turn should be hers, she was doing a fair amount of barking in her crate and she is wild walking into a ring. She looks like a fish on a line, she lunges at the dogs running and jumps and twists. At least yesterday she could take a treat or tug while she was waiting for her turn. I get her out as late as I can but boy when we get in bigger classes and I have to wait in the ring more often while dogs are going to be running-we are going to have to figure something out because she is a nut and so stimulated by the other dogs movement. The other funny part of her behavior yesterday was her bitching me out. When I was late with a cross boy she would whirl in front of me and just SCREAM at me all the way back to the start line. Jen was laughing, after one front cross ...I knew it was late and Cricket started screaming, I looked at Jen and said Cricket says that was late. Jen was laughing and said shes right. LOL.

Anyway, in the evening we had a mental management seminar with Daisy and I will have to tell you about that later because it is time for me to get going. Todays focus at camp is going to be SENDS.

I am apologizing for spelling errors, probably a lot of errors, I just have not figured out how to do posting really well from the ipad, but I wanted to post about what we were doing!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Crickets siblings are 5 weeks ;-)

From left to right, Tax-a boy, Credit-a boy, Levy-the little girl, and Debit-boy
Crickets full siblings turned 5 weeks old last Friday, aren't they cute?
There is a video of them in the morning, a couple of days ago, they are an energetic bunch, LOL.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Almost Time.....I'm excited...

I am so excited! The Spring Agility Camp is almost here! Three days doing agility with Jen, Karen Hollick and Daisy Peel and most importantly Cricket.

There are a few friends coming from out of state that I am really looking forward to seeing and there is usually a great group of people at these seminars. When I signed up it seemed like it was so far away but it is the homestretch.

The only sad part is that I had lots of big plans to get in seemed like such a good idea to work on my fitness goals with this camp as the goal to work towards....sigh......I have done some work but there always seemed like tomorrow, so unfortunately I am better then a few months ago but not where I would like to be or where I could be, ....oh well, maybe I could get in better shape by Friday, maybe I could even start tomorrow? LOL. It is what it is, right? It is just the stage I have been in lately, but thats ok!

I also had plans to work on foundation skills with Cricket, just reinforcing the recalls to heels, and some weave work to sharpen those up, but well I have just been feeling the need for a little training break ;-) so we can add that to the list of what did not happen....sigh.....Cricket and I have actually been doing tons of strength training....well, Cricket does the strength training and tricks and I just direct, hahahahha, not that I do not need the training too, but it is easier getting her in shape then myself ;-)---BAD ME!

I am a worrier so I am worried about my handling skills, and worried about packing. I am in charge of picking everyone up at the airport and providing transportation, so that will be very exciting. Being transportation person gives me lots more worry opportunities, hahahaha, I am a little worried about how to fit three people, their luggage, my crap and my dog in my car, I am worried about what to talk to everyone about in the car on the way and driving safetly, LOL, I of course am worried about making sure we don't get lost, SEE I TOLD YOU I AM AN OLYMPIC LEVEL WORRIER. For some reason I am especially good about worrying lately, so I can not wait for things to just get started so I can just relax and let it all happen and enjoy the weekend. I am a good worrier about things in the future but I do have to say I am pretty good about relaxing and being in the moment and rolling with things once they actually get underway. I do worry a lot but mostly I am excited-not to worry!

I am a pretty big whimp about the heat so I am a bit worried about three days doing agility in the sun-it has been in the mid 90's here. LUCKILY there is supposed to be a drop in temperature on Friday and Saturday, I could not find a forecast for Sunday and Monday, but whoo hooo, even the weather might co operate. How cool is that?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


OMG, ya go away for a few days and it seems everything is upside down when you get back? I have not been blogging because I just plain have been in one of those moods where I just did not feel I had anything to say that would be at all interesting to anyone else, ....sigh.... things have been going well.  Everyone (the dogs) have been amazing with their training and we actually have gotten a lot done and had a lot of fun ;-). We even have some fun tricks about ready for a video if I get off my buns and take video ;-). 

I miss everyone and am going to need to sit down with a nice glass of Crystal Light this afternoon and catch up on everyones blogs  ;-(. 

ANYHOW I went to sign on to the blog and WHAT HAPPENED????   I did not recognize anything about how it looked, I couldn't figure out how to sign in or write a post, seriously does everything have to change the second I turn my back? LOL.  Wasn't someone assigned to make sure big changes like this did not happen while I was absent?  Apparently not!

My kids have been especially charming lately, and have been hanging around  me more perhaps because we have been doing the driving lessons with my older teenager. She is doing marvelously but I have to admit there have been several times that I am grabbing the door and I have yelled a few times which I am pretty sure is not helpful-but all in all I am proud of how I am doing teaching my daughter and I am proud of how she is doing driving.

My younger daughter has a lot of friends texting her because of swim team an she has been getting TONS of chain texts telling her she has to forward it to X number of friends or some horrible fate will befall her, all the people who have not responded have been found dead in a toilet in ten days so BEWARE!. Of course my daughter dutifully sends the texts to the prescribed number of people, LOL, and was even sending me a fair amount of them. I talked to her about how there was really no risk and did she really believe in ten days she would drop dead? She says well, it does not make a lot of sense but you never know....LOL, so when I saw this sign on facebook it was too funny not to share.


So I figure none of this will be new to most of you, but figured it would be fun to post a few links to places where you can get a really fantastic education or some help with learning contacts!!! I like to believe there are always choices and alternatives. If you do not have classes in your area that meet your needs, or perhaps courses you would like to take are just way too expensive for you, then get creative and find what you need, you might even find something that suits your needs much better, ya never know.

With the internet it seems every day there are just more options. I just am going to put a few links so you can check out a few programs, but there are others out there, and if anyone knows another good internet class  it would be cool to share ;-).

DAWN WEAVER- a name a lot of you might not know but she has been doing some seminars out here on the west coast and is very popular in her seminars. Dawn is wildly successful in agility.  She has a method that looks very intriguing. I have heard her method is very similar to a much more expensive course-but I don't know that for a fact.... For running contacts she has a module system, you get a lesson plan and access to a video and work for a month, then you submit a video for DAWN TO REVIEW-yep, real live feedback on how YOU are doing.   I believe there are seven modules plus the stopped contact module and these cover all the contacts. 

The stopped contacts have their own little module and most of the training is done without equipment at your home to avoid any chance of messing up your training on the actual contact.

DAISY PEEL- has a course where you are going to get Daisy herself looking at your work/videos --you complete a lesson and submit a video and she gives you feed back and help. She has the dog driving to a manners minder for her running contacts and offers a course to increase drive to the manners minder you can take before the running contacts class. Daisy also has a variety of different classes.

SILVIA TRKMAN- of course Silvia is one of my favorites and I have taken a bunch of her classes.  I feel like with the puppy class and the foundation class I got great info on teaching stopped contacts, body awareness, keeping the dog engaged and it was great fun.   Her stopped contacts use games and a box or board away from the contacts to teach the 2020 behavior. There is TONS of body awareness and strengthening done with tricks.  Silvia looks at and comments on the videos students submit -it feels like you are indeed one of her students. I have not taken the running contacts course, but know a lot of people that have.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Time Keeps Marching On....

The seasons keep rolling from one to another here ;-)

It was NINETY FIVE degrees today, YIKES, I knew it was coming but it is still always a suprise ;-).

Cricket and I went to the practice yard and decided to try the excellent course that was set up and it went great even when I decided to try to use our Silvia Trkman Cik/Cap turns, she is really getting it, who knew???

My Lilacs are just magnificent this year. It is so cool because they did not do anything for years after I planed them. I love sitting outside by the Lilacs and the Jasmine just smelling the air, LOL. I am not much of a gardener-and gardening in the desert is a challenge, so having Lilacs, Iris and Jasmine all blooming is pretty exciting to me...

Then another real sign that time keeps marching on is my daughter getting her drivers permit and getting behind the wheel for the first time. I foolishly thought that she would get all her instructed time behind the wheel with the instructor THEN once she really pretty much had it down we would step in so she could practice. Well, she got a short lesson behind the wheel today with the instructor and then it was me and her on a desert road practicing stopping and turning -). I scare myself when I drive so I am not sure how I will handle the driving lessons, hopefully I will rise to the occassion and learn some tips and tricks because when she gets it down there is one more kid to get through learning to drive.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday Puppy Fix..

On Friday the 13th Crickets parents had their third and final litter. After this mom will continue her agility career. There were three boys and a girl. The puppies names have a tax theme since they were supposed to be born at tax time.


Introducing "Tax" a boy

"Levy" a girl

"Debit" a boy

"Credit" a boy

Monday, April 9, 2012

Promoting the Cause-and Accomplishing my Goals

Me getting ready for my talk-on the way there_

Last year was my year to really work on skills, like obstacle skills and training skills and really push my boundaries ;-).

This last couple of months I have felt very motivated to really push some of my personal boundaries, working outside the comfort zone! :-).

Soooooo, when a friend asked me to come and speak to her club about positive dog training, I thought yeah, why not...another good place to stretch my limits and work out of the old comfort zone.

As the talk got closer I started to panic-YIKES, who has a topic like positive dog training, much too loose and much too broad. Public speaking always brings back memories of me feeling like a bowl full of jelly in public speaking in junior high school.

I got lost on the way to my presentation, NOT HELPFUL! LOL, but got there on time and I thought there would just be a few people but there was a room full of people. OOOH dear!!!! And to make it worse as I was introduced to people as the speaker of the evening-I started getting more nervous then....I quickly assessed they were not dog people, nice people but not dog people at all!!!!

I had sort of been under the impression these were dog people, so what I had planned really did not seem as appropriate once I met my target audience. I would have been a lot better if I could have spoke right away, but first there was dinner, and a meeting and finally my turn. The extra time did give me a few minutes to think how I could sort of change what I was going to talk about to fit this group more.

I was motioned to the middle of a circle, so there was no hiding ;-). I know my voice was a little shaky at first and I think it cracked a few times but using what I have been learning lately to deal with lots of other things, I just let myself get carried away and took a deep breath and remembered I was talking about something I feel very passionate about, and I trusted myself to be able to communicate that to a group that was not overly interested in dog training, but was a very nice group who I did feel like were on my side.

I talked about how clicker training an positive animal training worked and about the benefits and what was possible, then I shaped a trick with Breeze in front of everyone.

Breeze used to be a bit on the spooky side and prone to bark at strangers so I did not know how she would do, and she used to be pretty poor at shaping....but Cricket was sooo wild after her ride in the car--I felt Breeze was my best bet. She was AWESOME and the crowd was "helping" me-you could hear them marking when we got the right response-it was pretty cool. As soon as we did the shaping I opened up the floor to questions and there were a lot, which were all things I felt pretty good about, all things that were things I felt I could answer with confidence.

I had been asked to do about 15 min, and I thought no way, but with all the questions and discussion at the end it ended up about 40 minutes that just flew by. During the questions Breeze curled up and laid down and snoozed, she acted like she had been a demo dog for years!

I was really proud of myself and proud of Breeze, I felt like we both pushed our boundaries and just being there talking gave me more confidence in what I do know about dogs.....Of course I did leave on a high but by the next morning was thinking of all the things I wish I had said, but in the spirit of being kinder to myself I shoved that to the side and let myself feel good about conquering another challenge, this pushing the comfort zone can be pretty cool sometimes! All in all I do think everyone seemed to be interested so I do not know how much I helped promote positive dog training, but I do not think I hurt the cause at all! hahahaha.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

All Good News Today!

Turns out I do own plenty of cat litter. After our suprise shipment yesterday I called the company this morning and they were as confused as I was, LOL.

A few hours later the nicest lady called back apologizing profusely and asking what I wanted done. Turns out she was hoping I had a cat and wanted some litter because to get someone to come and get it and transport it back would have been pretty expensive but they assured me it was not a problem to do it. I ASSURED them it was one of the coolest things that had happened to me and I would be tickled pink to keep it.

So,...because I believe in Karma and paying it forward, bad juju and all that stuff, I packed up a portion of the litter and brought it to the local shelter-so I even got to do a good deed.

I had said I would like to try a dog food they have and I think they saw the numbers in my house address and thought that each number was the number of bags I wanted of each type of litter. Seems like a really odd mistake but we all had a good laugh, she said that had never happened before and I assured her that no such thing had ever happened to me either.

SO THE FUNNIEST PART OF THIS WHOLE INCIDENT WAS.....a few hours after I got things straightened out and delivered some of the kittie litter to less fortunate kitties, .......guess what happened.......wait for it.....

YEP, the UPS guy pulled up and delivered two MORE boxes of litter and the origional shipment of dog food.

On another good front-since I broke my poor little foot in an unfortunate crash with Cricket while doing agility.....I had just been in sorry shape. At first I had to stay off my feet and I got TERRIBLY out of shape, EMBARRASSINGLY out of shape, it was really sad and embarrassing and I had no idea how out of shape I was until I went to enter our first trial a few months ago. I was so afraid to do that first trial because Cricket is a fast dog and I felt bad about what I let happen to myself.

Since fall my knees and feet have hurt ALL THE TIME and It is so hard to try to get in shape when it hurts to move and I was just getting scared I was on a down hill spiral and might have to get my knees replaced. After having them broken a couple of times and having had surgery on one of them years ago, I have always known eventually I will probably have to have that done, but I want to hold off as long as possible.

SOOOOOOO the happy part is that I found some knee exercises and started doing some easy yoga which is helping the opposing muscles and about a week ago I had the first time I ran agiity with Cricket and I was way far behind her and not able to keep up but it was because I was out of breath and out of shape, but it was NOT because it hurt. I was so excited, out of shape I know what to do about ;-). I am really hoping to be in better shape by the Spring Agility Camp the end of May--GOOOOOOO TEAM CRICKET!!!!

Monday, March 26, 2012


So one of the oddest things ever happened to me today while I was home minding my own business.....

The UPS guy shows up-a rare occassion for us-but he has to back into the driveway to deliver our delivery.

He has to get out the dolly, and is really joking about what did we order??? We were all laughing, what could it be??? Humm, thinking it is surely a suprise because I ordered a dvd but they dont usually need a dolly for delivery.....My hubby promised me a long jump for my bday in November, but a-sure he will wait for a few more holidays before he gets that...and b long jumps dont weigh that much or come in that many boxes.

We all notice the side of the box says KITTIE LITTER, and it does say it is the worlds best, but we all-the UPS guy, the kids and I joke about that because surely that is just a box someone used. One of the boxes is over 70 lbs.

Well, after the UPS guy leaves we rip open a box and guess what is inside......wait for it.....

KITTIE LITTER. More then 50 bags of Kittie litter. WHAT????

Well, I call my husband who has no clue, I call a friend who has a little doggie business and resales things and has had things delivered to me....I call anyone I can think of but no one knows what it is about ;-). I do get a few things to try and review once in awhile but they always give you a small or regular size bag and email first to see if I would like to try and review their product, I can not imagine sending 50+ bags.

I finally notice a phone number on one box, but of course as luck would have it-it is from a different time zone and the office must be closed for the night.

On the plus side the box says it is the WORLDS BEST CAT LITTER, so if I can not find the rightful owner...we will have the best ;-).

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Just Enjoying the Sun ;-).

It was a gorgeous day yesterday and after our trial this last weekend I wanted to go and practice on a nice easy course that would help build up our confidence-something easy and fun.

Breeze has not been able to weave because of her back for over the last year, but the vet has said that we could see how she would be just letting her do say like a set or two of weaves, well, she was looking good, but the true test will be if she stays looking good and can do a few sets of weaves a week-and does not get stiff. It was such a rush to see Breeze looking good and having fun

Liz was a super star and I did not get video of her but for the last few weeks I take her to practice and just walk around and C/T for taking obstacles and following me around-Lizzie was able to do a full course-she looked good and no zoomies. Lizzie just puffs up and looks so pleased with herself when she feels she is working.

I am very grateful we were able to enjoy the day since they are predicting a big storm that might give us several days of rain. I am getting addicted to agility once again ;-).

Monday, March 12, 2012

Tales from AKC Novice --

Ok, another trial this weekend and CONSIDERING we have never got to take a class, and I consider myself a decent trainer but still learning and I am really rusty and do not have a lot of actual trial experience..I feel like we are coming along.

The first run I posted was at Contact Point, the only run I could get videos from because it was pretty deserted by the time Novice ran. Cricket dropped the bar on the panel that is before the aframe, and went over the contact on the aframe, and around a jump before the weaves after the chute, it is hard to see.

Second two videos are Saturday March 10, 2012 and are NQs-boy I do not know where my head was. I totally missed the start of JWW and was across the park, so the whole ring was stopped screaming for me-I was running and everyone was so nice telling me to slow down and just take a breath. Well, I went to my lead out position and was really in a poor position and almost killed Cricket and myself-our near death portion of the video, LOL. Then in standard I just spaced and couldnt figure out what to do because I had accidentally rear crossed the teeter and pulled her off-she jumped back on and all I could think is that she broke the four paw rule but I could not figure out what to do. I just broke out laughing and the judge was laughing, what a nut.

Third day was a hard day to go back too. I felt like I let Cricket down the day before, no one I knew was going to be there, and I just felt like I could train Cricket but what was I going to do about me. My hubby was being a boob and by the time it was time to leave I just sat in the car and started to cry. My daughter Emma came running out and said she would go with me-giving up an outting with her sister and dad. I got to the trial and as I was getting ready to run Marla Cooper saw us as she was walking to her car but said she was in a hurry but would watch. What a sweetie as we finished our second run there was Marla shouting across the ring that it was a great run and we looked marvelous. She stayed all that time and just gave me some great feedback. The judge said it really was a great run and I had a really nice dog.

My friend Denise had stayed all day on Saturday to video and offer support and when I had my very sad runs, she was fantastic helping me keep perspective. The last day we had a lot of fun stuff, some baby dog mistakes and no Q but I left feeling like who cares? No one besides me would have cared and more important then a ribbon I knew we have made steady progress, we dont have as much spinning, and things are looking good, Cricket was able to take food on the way to the start and she was able to tug for a second as we finished. More important then a ribbon or a Q I know that I am really lucky to have some of the awesome people that have gone so out of the way to help me on my little journey. I do not know why some of the people who have gone so far out of the way have done so but I am truly blessed with the most awesome people in the world being right where I needed them at the perfect time. My whole agility journey has been blessed by some special angels at every turn I really needed them-how much better is that then just a silly ribbon? Those ribbons will come but I left the trial Sunday loving agility.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Hurrier I Go, the Behinder I Get

Today is the Agility Bloggers Event day and agility bloggers are posting on the subject "If I knew then what I know now...."

Thinking about what I would like to "talk" about really was interesting because gosh I realized how much my doggies, mentors, friends, instructors, students and other bloggers have taught me over the last few years. I could talk about how over the last two years I have learned that the most important skills for agility have nothing to do with any equipment....I could talk about how my view of rewards has changed, I could talk about how my view of success and our goals have changed and how that has affected our first few trials....I could talk about how profoundly my view of what being a good learner means, wow, so much has changed in my training and in how I approach my life because of my last few years of dog training-looking back I am really pretty proud of how far I have come since I was a preteen training my first dog Abby, a West Highland White terrier who was my first heart dog.

What I decided I wanted to share was a HUGE concept that has made such a difference in my life and training. I have fought against this step and fiercely resisted taking the step of BECOMING A PLANNER!!!! HORRORS!!! I always wanted to see myself as a free spirit, but as I got my fifth dog and my third cat in addition to my two kids at home, -- knowing I was not going to have much luck finding more hours in the day.....I have come to the realization of what the saying meant "The hurried I go, the behinder I get" -Lewis Caroll, Alice in Wonderland- IT'S TRUE. I knew I needed to make my hours work better for me. I really wanted to make my training more efficient so I could actually spend my time training, get the training I needed to get done done, and so my dogs and I enjoyed it more. I really do not want to spend all day training, I like to get in there, have a good time, accomplish what we need and stop.

We all know people who work and work, they train and train-they really work hard and seem to put in a lot of time, but gosh it seems they never have that much to show for what they have done, they always look close but their performances are never really solid looking. I really feel like before I had Cricket I was one of these trainers, I had great ideas and I knew where I wanted to go but I always felt like I was spinning my wheels and did not feel focused, I really felt that I should be getting much more accomplished considering the time I was putting in.

"Time flies. It's up to you to be the navigator." -Robert Orben Hummm, at a certain point I decided stop fighting becoming a planner -to try to not just dive in to our training-but to be smart and plan.

What I found out was that by taking out time to sit and think of a plan for my training I got a lot of benefits

1. I found my training more effective because I reviewed materials for what I wanted to train-I go and look up articles I remember reading and wanted to try things from. As I am reviewing the materials I often find out that while I remembered the basics I might have forgot key steps or ideas ;-).

2. I make much better use of my time when I walk out onto the training field or step into the park I have a plan and I know what I want to do. I am much less likely to be tempted by others to sit and talk during my whole training time (something I used to do ALL the time) I train way less and I get much more accomplished without being tempted to skip steps to save time. I have enough time to go through all the steps, I know my plan and I know where we are going.

3. THE BIGGEST PAYOFF--My dogs have a much higher level of motivation-when I am ready to go and confident of what we are doing we can jump right into the game-this makes their mama (me) much more fun and much more in the moment,I do not end up leaving them hanging sitting around finding their own fun while I figure out what I need to do-or while I am talking to other people and just hanging out.

4. I am much less likely to get frustrated or feel lost, I sort of know where I am going and I am much more likely to follow all the steps in training and I just feel more confidence in picking a path....even when it might feel like we are a little stuck, with a plan it is easier to just go ahead and try to work through it rather then just getting stuck and staying there.

5. When I do need help, I am much more aware of what we have addressed and what is going on, my mind is organized which makes it easier to look for an answer in articles, videos, blogs, or to ask people I respect. I can focus in on what it is we need much quicker.

Planning does not have to be really long or involved-I usually keep a training log so I can see what we have worked on and what we have not worked on. I try to sit down for a few minutes and just think about what I want to work on the next day, which gives me the opportunity to go through my materials and review anything that might help-articles, notes, videos, course maps or sequences. It is one of those things that the more I do it the more second nature it becomes. It is also getting so much easier to walk out onto a course someone else has set up and pick out little parts I can make into a sequence that will fit into what we need to train-Love that.

My favorite way of logging training now days is using Google Docs. This is sort of impossible to explain on a blog but play with google docs and you can figure it out. On google docs you can make up a form-you can make it a simple form that you just click off different elements of training that you do. I put all sorts of obstacles and then what elements I train for each one. You send the form to yourself and if you have an iphone when you open it you can choose the option at the bottom of the screen from where there is the square with the arrow shooting out of it, choose the option that says ADD TO HOME SCREEN. This will give you your very own phone app to keep track of your training. When you fill out the form and click submit it will send it to Google Docs where it makes a spread sheet that you can keep track of what you are and are not training. Say you want to make sure you do some quick review on the chute or the dog walk entrance about every month-as you scan your little spread sheet you notice that it has been awhile-on the spread sheet it is easy to note that and add it into your training plan before you see it at a trial and kick yourself for not doing that training in awhile. ;-)
Here is a screen shot of just the first page of mine.

The google docs is a free program and is fun to play with, email if you are playing and have a question or if you come up with a really cool way to use it for your own training.

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