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 http://dog-agility-blog-events.posterous.com/pages/attitude

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.