Saturday, October 3, 2009

Many Things.....

I have many things to write about, but first of all, we are very happy to hear that Mr. Darcy is rebounding and looks to be on his way healing! Yay!!

Yesterday I took the dogs out in the morning for a hike on an old forest service road. I really enjoy these roads because not everyone knows about them and I can let the dogs off leash to run around and not have to worry about anything aside from the wildlife that we might come across. I brought my camera along, but didn't really take too many pictures. Mostly I just enjoyed being out in the woods with just my dogs. It's nice to have the quiet and just really take in the scenery!

Now that the weather is starting to cooperate more and I don't have to work all of our excursions around long day light hours and hot temperatures, I can focus more on building up the dogs' endurance for our winter sports and just fitness levels in general! I am such a fall and winter person! This weather just makes me so happy! With these lovely cooler temperatures, we're shooting for our weekly hikes being at least three hours in duration. I don't want to focus on distance because that can be difficult on a trail with a lot of climbing or go by way too fast on an easier trail. So three hours is our goal and we'll just increase it from there. The dogs are definitely happy to get out and about for these extended periods of time.

After our lovely little hike, we came home and relaxed for a bit. Then I wipped out the nail polish and got a little creative with the dogs' toe nails! Bess doesn't have a dog show until the 25th and both dogs don't have an AKC agility trial (AKC does NOT allow their toe nails to be painted regardless of the event) until the 30th, so we're good to go on some painting! I went with alternating orange and black nail polish for both dogs. On Heffner I used some cute little nail decals that I found at Fred Meyer. I couldn't find anything that was particularly Halloween oriented, so I went with a "punk rock" theme instead. Bess got lovely little rhinestones on her toes nails!

And because I'm a total dork, I did my toe nails up to sort of match the dogs. I couldn't decide between doing the rhinestones or the decals, so I did one of each!
I didn't get a chance to post any of this yesterday because soon after I took the pictures of our lovely nails, my husband whisked me off to see Zombiland with some friends. I LOVED that movie! Totally hilarious! And afterwards we went out to grab a bite to eat and a little bit to drink. By the time we got home it was getting late and I was getting pretty tired so I figured that I would just hold off until today.

This morning we had an agility match and since the weather is now so deliciously cool, I was able to bring both dogs!! And Adam took advantage of the close location and shortened time of "competition" to come, watch, and video tape us! I'm finding it really helpful to watch myself afterwards so that I can see where I bobbled and where I need to clean things up. All-in-all, I was really pleased with both the dogs today! And I do have to say that I was especially pleased with Heffner! He just totally switches into this different mind set now when agility is involved. He can pretty easily ignore other dogs, is hardly reactive at all, and is able to work off-leash in close proximity to other dogs (something that we've really been working on in class with our instructor ready to step in if needed, and I'm happy to say that it hasn't been needed!). For the first round of runs, I chose to do the easier course to warm the dogs up and also do the off-set weave poles. Both dogs missed their practice this week and I've been really working on the weaves with both of them, so I wanted to start them off on the right foot instead of setting them up for failure. The second round, I chose the harder course and was really impressed with how well both dogs handled the course. And especially how well Heffner handled the jump sequence at the back end of the arena. He's really doing well with his directed jumping, front crosses, and even my dreaded rear crosses.:) At any rate, I've uploaded the videos and I'll do a little commentary for each one.

This first video is of Heffner's first run of the day on the easier course. Adam didn't have the video started right when we started the course, so that first section isn't on there. The section that it starts on is us redoing the dog walk. It's not something Heffner has problems with, but if I crowd him on his entry to it, I usually end up pushing him off. I finally got it right though and gave him enough room and straighter entry and we got it! And you can't tell in the video, but he TOTALLY leaped right over the up contact on the A-Frame. It's kind of a problem. I worked on it with him more on our second run, but it's something that usually comes out during a trial or a match if I don't harp on him and forget to give him the "easy" command. Missing the up contact in CPE isn't bad and not a fault, however, we are going to get our butts nailed on that one in AKC, so I need to get my rear in gear and work more consistently with him on that!

This next video is of Bess' first run on the easier course. I redid our jump after the second tunnel because I didn't like the rear cross that we did on that one. I have a tendency to get thrown off on the tunnels with her because she moves through them so much faster than Heffner. With Heffner I usually have enough time to get to the other end. With Bess, that is not always the case and my front cross was really messy. I tried to pull off a rear cross, but that didn't work out as well either. And while you can't tell on the video, Bess nailes her up contacts on the A-Frame and we've worked enough on her down contacts that she's doing really well with those as well and not prematurely bailing!

This next video is of Heffner on the harder course. It's harder to see with the lighting and the fact that the camera isn't zoomed in (the picture quality goes to crap when that happens!), but Heffner handled the jump sequence at the other end of the arena really well. We need to work on getting more speed, but I wanted accuracy and a clean run as opposed to just blasting through it and having it be really ugly otherwise. Our weave pole entry was also problematic, but I knew that it would be. I really prefer more open entries instead of a jump that leads immediately into the weaves. It's more difficult for me to gauge my speed and body cues for him when we've got such a short distance between where he lands after the jump and where he enters the weaves. I also worked him on his up contacts on the A-Frame.

And the final video is off Bess on her second run on the harder course. She did quite well the first time around! I decided to go for a second time and try to really work that jump sequence in the back, which I should have known better than to do with Bess. She isn't at a place in her training right now where I can harp her on sequences. She'll go through the motions, but she starts to shut down unless I make it super fun. And I wasn't making it super fun like I should have so we weren't running as well. We did make it through and ended on a good note (Adam stopped recording before we were finished), so everything ended well and she was still a happy girl!

That's what we've been up to! We also received some fun collars in the mail that I ordered from Kennedy, but I'm going to wait just a wee bit longer before revealing them.:)


Abbey said...

Great stuff... but for the uninitiated whats a front and rear cross?
The first trainer I had with Chelsea said she couldnt do agility due to the pressure on her joints and that she shouldnt jump... it was till 12months I was game to let her jump in and out of my truck... your two seem fine? is there any truth in what the trainer said or was he just not a Dane man?
Your right about the positives of having it taped to play back. My lad played baseball at a state level and I taped every God could you imagine me if I had the girls in a sport...
I really liked your videos, Ive watched heaps of dogs doing bits but thats the first time Ive watched it come together and your explanation for each video was invaluable... Great work by you and the hounds... you must be proud!

brooke said...

I love the painted toe nails! Ive been telling Jason I want to paint Darwin's nails, and he wont let me! Love the stickers and jewels! hehehe
I just showed Jason this post and his first reaction was "no".
Love it!

Kennedy said...

Abbey, with a Dane you can do agility but you'd wait a lot longer than many other breeds. You could probably start a foundation course between 18 months and 2 years and work slowly. Your Dane's growth plates need to be closed before jumping full height. But other than that, they do just fine. It's more difficult to go through tunnels, there are some ground work exercises you can do to work on foot placement so going over the teeter and dog walk are easier (they're only 12" wide!), but Danes are just as capable.

A front cross is done when you can get ahead of your dog. You turn into the dog and it's designed to help you change the side you're leading them from. You keep them in sight at all times. A rear cross means you cross to the rear. E.g. Send over a jump (or to a jump) and cross behind as they sail over it.

Love the nails, as always, Lindsay! How long does it take you?

Lindsay said...

Thanks Abbey!:) Like Kennedy said, you want to wait for their growth plates to close before you do a lot of impact exercises like jumping. However, that won't stop you from working on sequencing when they're younger by having them run through the jump standards without a pole across them! Your trainer was probably just overly cautious and not fully educated on giant breeds in performance sports.

Brooke, you just have to wait until Jason's not around and then paint Darwin's nails!he he he It's such a hoot and Heffner especially totally relaxes into it.

The time it takes me to do their nails really depends on what I'm doing with them. If I'm doing just one or two coats of one color, probably about 15 min. per dog so that I can make sure they're totally dry before letting them walk around on the carpets. For these designs that had to be sealed with a clear top coat and needed a couple of layers of color it was probably almost a half hour per dog. It can definitely get time consuming!

Jennifer H. said...

Oh my goodness I LOVE the nails!!!! So much fun. The videos are great too. I LOVE watching Danes do agility. Falkor and I have taken an agility foundation class and it was a blast!

Andrea said...

When is that AKC agility trial? And where? I might come to cheer from the side lines :)

Lindsay said...

That'd be cool if you could make it down Andrea! It's down in Albany. I've got both dogs entered on the 30th and 31st.