Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pumpkin Patch!

I had a slower day at work and took full advantage of this by ducking out for a couple of hours in the morning to meet up with a friend and her husband to hit up the local pumpkin patch! I REALLY wanted to hit up a pumpkin patch with the dogs, but I absolutely did not want to go on a weekend. Not that we really have had much weekend time for that, but I'm not a big fan of the masses of people. And I wanted to take the dogs along. While the weather wasn't exactly perfect, it was fine enough for us to get out and enjoy one of my favorite Halloween traditions.:)

The farm that we went to was Lakeview Farms. They have some pretty cute holiday stuff going on that I enjoy. AND they allow dogs on everything, which is obviously a huge bonus for me! We got there and were the first people to arrive. We got our ride tickets and headed on out to take the train to the pumpkin patch. Rene and her husband Chris got to take Bess. Who was just a wee bit pent up and feeling her oats. Her first attempt into the train car, she hopped in and then immediately hopped over the other side. The second time worked out a lot better.

On our way out I took a little video of us on the train.:o)

From there, we grabbed some pumpkins and then waited for the boat to take us across the pond to the little country store. The boat is cute because there are two spots on the pond where animated stuff comes out of the water to "scare" you. Bess was initially fine getting onto the boat, but then decided she really wasn't all that thrilled to be there once it started moving. However, she did a lot better this time around than her first time on the boat. Here's a picture of Heffner and I on the boat. And yes, you absolutely may be jealous of my mad fashion sense!;)

We made a little stop on the banks to take some pictures with the photo op thingy.:)

It was a great way to spend the morning. If only all work days could start off like that!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Agility Weekend Recap!!

As I mentioned, we had a really great weekend up in Elma, WA for the CPE agility trial! They were also some pretty long days. And because I'm so brilliant, I chose to drive back and forth both day. I won't be doing that again. We'll stay in a hotel next time! I can usually make the drive in around 2 hours with minimal traffic and good weather. Unfortunately it poured and was windy for a lot of the drive. This helped to make for some long days! We were leaving the house by 5 am both days. Saturday night we got home a little after 10 pm (it was also a full trial with only one ring) and Sunday we got home around 9:30pm. Loooooooooooooooong days! But Heffner was a trooper! Unfortunately I didn't manage to get any video. I brought my camera and had a few friends there, but when it was getting close to our runs, I just wasn't paying enough attention to remember to ask someone to video for us. I will make sure to rectify that next time! We had some nice runs too! And at least one that I'm sure was pretty entertaining.
First up on Saturday was Fullhouse with all levels running the same course. I picked a nice flowing route that worked well for us. However, I underestimated my dog. I had the perfect route planned with EXACTLY the number of points that we needed to qualify. That's the first warning flag. While walking the course I planned on taking the A-frame that's over the tunnel. While running the course, I assumed that there just wasn't any way that Heffner would choose a tunnel over the A-frame and kind of half-assed my commands and didn't support my dog. Who then chose to take the tunnel. Unfortunately the buzzer went off before I could scramble and get those two remaining points. We missed qualifying by two points. What's the point difference between the A-frame and the tunnel? That'd be 2 points. D'oh! Otherwise, he was running really well and I was pleased.:o)
Next up was Standard. It was a nice course that I didn't really anticipate having any problems with as long as I got myself into the right positions. Thankfully I held up my part of the bargain and Heffner happily cruised his way to a qualifying run, taking first place!
Next up was Jackpot! And it was a fun nontraditional course! I can say that with enthusiasm because we're still at the lower levels and don't need to accrue quite as many points as the upper levels do. As long as the handler stayed within the box, all obstacles were worth double points. With a 10 point bonus if you could send your dog out to the table from within the box. I just basically planned to hop into the box and stay there running Heffner around the outside until we accrued enough points. And that's just what we did! I tried a send to the weave poles from within the box, but it was still a little further out than we've worked on so far. Otherwise he nailed everything else. I didn't properly set up our send to the table and didn't build up enough momentum with him for him to go charging past me to hit his favorite obstacle to jump on. So I had to step outside of the box to get him on the table. But we had a lovely qualifying run and took another first place!
Our final runs of the day were Colors and Snooker. Colors was another lovely course that we sailed through with a Q and another 1st place! Not much to say about that. Just a nice course. I could ask for a few less tunnels, but Heffner was hitting those tunnels at full speed and not shaking it off after emerging. I'll take that as a thumbs up that he's doing fine. He also got rubbed down in between runs, which probably helped.

Snooker was the last course we ran and was raring to go. Not only because I wanted to get headed home, but because I felt that I had a plan that would work out nicely. My plan was to accrue a little over the minimum amount of points that I needed so that I could avoid the two tunnel combo at the end of the sequence. Once we had enough points, Heffner and I cut loose for the table! Another qualifying run and another first place!

I think that Heffner was really enjoying the games courses this past weekend. I was having fun making things up and racing him to the table and I know that he had to be feeding off of that. When mom is happy and out there having fun running around with him, he's a happy boy.:o)

Sunday morning came all too early and we loaded up for the second day of the trial. It didn't rain too hard on our way up, so we made pretty good time.
First run of the morning was Jackpot and I was again excited to go! The send portion was definitely doable as long as I maintained momentum and I knew that we could get the opening points. As we were finishing up our opening section waiting for the buzzer to go off so that we could do the jackpot (this was a traditional Jackpot and we needed to wait for the closing buzzer to attempt it), the timers started yelling out something about the time and we were just waved on to do the jackpot. So we did, and nailed it!! Once we were done, I learned that there was a problem with the timer and it hadn't actually started. Our judge (one of my favorite CPE judges, Cheryl Huffman) had them keep the points we earned for the jackpot, but asked us to redo the opening. I was more than happy to do that. Heffner was still up for it and seemed happy that we got to play more on the course. We ended up accruing more points the second time around and nailed back to back weaves! We started off the morning with a lovely qualifying run and a first place finish.:o)
Next up was Standard. We had kind of an off run. It was decent, but Heffner just seemed a little off and knocked two bars. We're only allowed one knocked bar for Standard, so no Q there. He got some extra stretching out time and neck rubs after that run because I was a little concerned that maybe he was feeling a little stiff. We had some time before our next run, so we both dozed inside while the other levels run and the courses were changed around.
Next up was Wildcard. I had a plan for avoiding as many tunnels as I possibly could. Unfortunately, the requirements for the course were such that I couldn't avoid doing at least one. But if I could pull Heffner off the tire and get him to take the left jump instead of the right jump that was RIGHT in front of the tire, we would only have to take one tunnel. You probably already guessed it. He took the right jump and we had to do two tunnels. But he did great and thankfully I had planned for the possibility that that would happen and was able to switch gears. I've had problems with that in the past and thanks to me, we've missed out on qualifying. This time though, we qualified and took first place!
The last runs of the day were Snooker and Jumpers. First up was Snooker. As long as we kept our reds up, I had plotted a course to get us our points and avoid as many tunnels as possible. And we did it! As soon as we got our last points, it was time for Heffner and I to race towards the table! He was all too happy to sprint with me (okay, so it was mostly ME sprinting) across the ring toward the table to end the time. We qualified, but took second place.

Final run of the day was Jumpers. At this point, I could tell that Heffner was starting to get tired. And I couldn't blame him, I was pretty beat as well. The Jumpers course was another nice course and I didn't see to many problems. We sailed through it with a clean, qualifying run and took second place.

Aside from being minus one dog, it was a great weekend and I am uber proud of how well Heffner did. It just all came together and he was really synced in with me. It was a great feeling and I am really hoping that it continues!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Quick Post

I haven't posted for several days now. Same ole thing, busy and trying to find time for everything. However, I did have to do some serious bragging about my wonderful boy!! This weekend we were up in Elma, WA for a CPE agility trial (I ended up having to pull Bess because she was in season). Heffner was GREAT!! He qualified in 8 out of the 10 runs over the weekend!! Woo hoo!! That's his highest Q rate EVER! And he was so happy! It was a great weekend, but very long. I was leaving the house by 5 am both days and the earliest I got home was 9pm. But well worth it.:o) More on that later and other topics that I have promised to post about!

Sunday, October 17, 2010


The thing about a "down weekend" where I'm "at home" for the whole time, is that I spend plenty of time getting caught up on stuff and doing everything that I've been putting off. Oh yeah, and bagging lots of meat for the dogs. I'll try to recap the past three days, though this maybe a two parter.

On Friday, we headed off to central Oregon to visit my parents' property out in Pine Grove. I've mentioned it several times in the past, but it's 40 acres of bare land that my parents' have owned forever, that butts up against the Mt. Hood national forest. It's fantastic and the dogs love it! Almost exactly a year ago this past Friday when we went out there, we had an "experience" with a herd of semi wild horses. Since then, we haven't come across this herd again. guessed it......her of horses. Thankfully not right at the camp site this time around, but just up and over the next hill once we set out hiking. Oy! But I'm getting ahead of myself!

Once we got to the property, I let the dogs out and they ran around for about a half hour. First it started off like this:

The longer they ran around, the more wound up Bess got. Until she was doing a whole lot of this:

She really cracks me up some times!

Once they got the zoomies out of their system we headed out. It was a beautiful day out! Clear skies, temps in the low 50's, and barely a breeze. Almost perfect! As we got going along, the dogs got really interested in the scents on the ground. Almost as though something was relatively close by. We were high enough up on the first hill that I had a really good vantage point of the area around us and I couldn't find horses, deer, or anything. I just figured that something had come along a while before we did and the scent was still fresh enough to perk the interest of the dogs. Bess was actually striking some poses and holding them, which is not terribly common for her, so I took advantage of the situation and got some shots that I like.

As we were coming up and over the second hill, I spotted the freaking herd of horses shortly ahead of us. The dogs didn't initially spot them. I think they were too interested in the SMELLS to pay attention to what was a short distance ahead of us. I stopped and took stock of the situation. The last time we came across this herd, upon first sighting them, the dogs immediately gave chase. But then we came across that herd a few more times that same day and they weren't as interested. I had a feeling that there interest would be lower this time and knowing my dogs, I continued on our path.

As you'll see in the video (I forgot to mention that while I was taking stock of the situation I was also taking out my camera and preparing to get some pictures/video), Bess seemed a lot more oblivious to the horses than Heffner. Heffner wasn't really sure whether to chase them or hang back. He's smart and realized that he was out numbered and wasn't about to give chase unless Bess was crazy enough to.

Here's a picture of the herd:

I have to admit that the dogs were actually pretty well behaved. In the picture above that I took with Heffner's head in it, he was standing next to me voluntarily. I wasn't hanging on to his collar. Eventually Bess caught on to the fact that there were horses right in front of us. Then both dogs took up a position of watching and waiting. I'm pretty sure that they were both waiting for the horses to make the first move.
Gradually more and more horses stopped grazing and brought their heads up to watch us. Once the horses broke and started casually trotting away, the dogs were off! Bess did a nice big loop of the herd and I think was just getting her rocks off chasing them period. Heffner chased for a bit and then realized it was a lot of effort to continue chasing these big beasts that were faster than him (once they started galloping) and jauntily trotted back to me as the victorious perimeter guard that he is. After Bess had a good run, I called her back and she happily came running back to us with her tongue flapping all the way out of her mouth. She was just plain pleased with herself!

The rest of the hike was uneventful, but gorgeous. Here are the rest of the pictures that I took along the way:

Our total hike time was a little less than three hours. Once we got back to the truck, I pulled out my camp chair, a book, and relaxed in the sunshine for a bit. The dogs lay around me and soaked up some rays. After about a half hour, I started to get chilled though. While temps in the low 50's are great for when you're hiking and getting that blood pumping, they're not as much fun when you're sitting around not doing a whole lot. So I packed the dogs up and we headed home.

I spent the rest of the evening with Adam seeing Red and grabbing a little bite to eat. Good movie, and a relaxing end to the day. Except that once I got home, I remembered that I had four ginormous cow livers sitting in the garage that were completely thawed and waiting for me to cut up. That took about an hour and a half. Once I showered the raw meat smell off of me, it was off to bed and pleasant dreams of actually getting to sleep in on a Saturday morning!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fun Thursday

I had a fun little adventure today picking up the dogs' next three months worth of food! I was going to use my lunch break to quickly pop over to the butcher's. Since it's not that warm out, I figured that the meat would be fine in the back of my truck, since I needed it start thawing any way. What should have been a quick trip, turned into a much longer one. On my way out of Portland, I heard a weird kind of vibrating noise. I couldn't see or feel anything particularly wrong with the truck, so I just assumed that it was one of the boxes pressed up against the tail gate and making a funny noise. Plus, I was on the packed streets of Portland and it wasn't like there was any space to pull over and check things out. So I continued on my merry way.

Then I noticed that I just didn't seem to be accelerating as quickly as normal and my truck seemed kind of sluggish. Again, other than the sluggishness, nothing really seemed all that wrong. Finally, as I'm moseying along the highway, an elderly couple drive up along side my and start very obviously pointing to the back end of my truck. So I figured something was possibly going on with my tailgate and causing that noise. I was luckily along a stretch of the highway that actually had a decent enough shoulder. I pulled over, and low and behold, I had a flat rear tire. Lovely! I had to call work and let them know that I was going to be a little later than expected.;) Then I called Adam to figure out what the heck to do. I knew where the spare tire was, but I had no idea how to get to it. He said that he would come help me out, but to start looking through my owner's manual. It's a damn good things they include those things in every vehicle!

As I'm sitting behind my truck leafing through the owner's manual (AFTER hunting down all the tire changing equipment!) and trying to figure out what goes where, a very nice guy pulls over and offers to help me out. And wouldn't you know, he's basically a pro. Had the whole air compressor tools in his truck! Needless to say, he got the tire changed in no time flat. Adam showed up just as he was finishing. Then I was off to Les Schwab to get the flat tire looked at. Turns out it's pretty well trashed. The tread part is fine, it just won't hold any air and something inside it is starting to separate. Which really stinks because I've only had these tires for a few months.

Meanwhile, I'm just really happy that this happened today and not tomorrow. I'm taking the dogs out to my parents' property in Pine Grove for the day, and it would have been a lot worse to be stuck out in the middle of no where with a flat tire and two giant antsy dogs in the truck.

So now I've got a fixed tire, lots of meat starting to thaw in my garage, and an awesome day of hiking to look forward to tomorrow!! It's been a good day.:o)

I haven't really tried out the Furminator on the dogs yet, but I did try it out on Trouble, our long haired cat and it is FABULOUS!! I think I have finally found a way to prevent the massive amounts of hair that he leaves all over the house! He will be getting brushed very regularly from now on.:)

Now for a revisiting of the rally weekend. Kathie, you are totally right, I should have continued on with Heffner past the station that he was stuck on. I think at that point, since I couldn't get him to do anything but stand there, I just wasn't thinking of going on. Which I could have done. I was going to botch the run any how, I should have continued on until we hit something where he was moving with me and then I could have really rewarded him. He was doing well enough at the very beginning that I thought we might be able to make it all the way through. I should have stopped at the sign that I had originally planned on. Our pivot was good and that would have been the ideal spot to stop at because he was actually making eye contact and staying with me. I think that I myself got caught up in being a little disappointed after he was looking like he was going to get through it, that I just didn't think about continuing on.

Our obedience instructor did say something to me though that I think I might try with Heffner. She was talking about her frenchie that she's competing with at the utility level right now. In order to keep her thinking that the trials are fun and just like matches, she does a bunch of matches where she gets plenty of treats and then enters her in one trial. Her frenchie gets so into the mode of matches where she KNOWS that she'll get rewarded, that she usually turns in a better performance at the trial. While she was referring to her own dog and to the previous trial that they had just competed at (we were comparing experiences at the same trial where she showed in the morning and I showed in the afternoon), it got me to thinking that maybe that's what Heffner needs. Lots of matches where he KNOWS that he'll get the rewards that he wants, and then ONE trial where I sort of "trick" him. It's worth a shot!

I'll talk more about our drill team in my next post!:o)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Such A Deal!

I'm running low on steam tonight, but I did want to pass along a freakishly good deal for anyone interested. Adam randomly came across this last night. We've all heard and seen the adds for the Furminator and it seems like a great product. Personally, I'm quite partial to my Zoom Groom. Add to that the fact that the Furminator runs any where from around $20 for it's smallest size up to $60 for the largest, and purchasing one is really rather ridiculous. However, for anyone interested, Amazon is clearing out a bunch of these puppies and the $59.95 version is on sale for $10.22!!! Just go to the link that I added and the page should come up. While I don't have long haired dogs and I have already professed my love for the Zoom Groom, we bought one just to try it out. When something is knocked down in price that dramatically, you just can't pass it up! And we're also hoping that it will help furminate Trouble, our long haired cat. This time of year all he does is lay around the house and shed large clumps of hair EVERYWHERE and it drives me nuts! I'll give my opinion of it for short haired dogs versus the Zoom Groom once I get a chance to try it out.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Meditation Monday

I'll talk a little more about the trial this past weekend and the drill team in another post later this week, but I'm going to start my theme of Meditation Mondays to sort of do a weekly check in as to how the meditation is going with or without the dogs. At the moment, I am leaving the door open to the room that I meditate in and the dogs are free to come or go as they please. I'm not forcing them to stay with me. What I have found is that they need about five minutes to settle down and get into their own comfy spots when they follow me into the room. What has surprised me, is that Bess is the one who has spent the majority of the time with me. I kind of thought that Heffner would since he is more of the one who needs to be close to me. On the other hand, Bess is the one who likes to cuddle and try to crawl into my skin. So I guess I really shouldn't be all that surprised.

Last Thursday was actually a really good day. Heffner left about half way through, but Bess lay lengthwise along my legs with her back up against me the whole time. It was kind of nice to have something to focus on. I put my hand on her chest so that I could try to sort of sync up our breathing. We did have it for a short period of time. She is now quite consistently staying in the room with me for the whole duration of the session.

I have learned two things so far. 1) My mind is quite busy and it all too easily drifts off into a thought of some sort. I know that with time and practice, quieting the mind will become a little easier, but right now it's like constantly swatting at gnats buzzing around my head. 2) Caffeine is VERY bad for keeping the mind quiet. On Friday and then again today, I had some caffeine. I actually cut myself off a few weeks ago mostly because of my head cold and I wanted to keep myself hydrated. Then I decided to keep going with it because I was able to keep a clearer head. Well, I had a Coke (my primary vice other than the dogs) on Friday and today and it was ridiculous. Trying to keep my mind clear and just stay focused on my breathing was really difficult. I didn't feel like I accomplished a whole lot on either one of those sessions. Thankfully the days without caffeine went a lot better.

I'm looking forward to getting better at this and hopefully being able to more consistently work the dogs into it. We'll see.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Rally Trial Day 2

Day 2 was a little better than day 1. The advantage to Rally being in the afternoon versus in the morning with Obedience is that people were starting to pack their crates up and head out. Which meant that there was a little more room. Still not a ton, but every bit counts. And the atmosphere just felt more relaxed this time around. Maybe because there were less people. At any rate, first up again was Bess in Excellent.

The course was nice and I didn't do any major foibles. My only down fall was practicing downs with her before hand too much. I was trying to decide on whether to do the formal obedience down signal or to do the signal that I originally trained the dogs with. I decided to go with the latter because I've been using it longer. And while Bess understands the formal obedience signal, when she's in heel position and we have to do the moving down, it's just not as obvious and we've only been doing it for a couple of weeks now. So stick with what you know so you don't have to redo the station.;o) The downfall of practicing downs so much before hand was that she was anticipating the down. And for one of the stations I needed her to go from a sit to a stand to a down. Because we had JUST been practicing downs with two different signals, she went from a sit to a down, so we redid that station. Otherwise it was a good run. The competition was tougher today and we took third, but we definitely had a MUCH better run!

Next up was Heffner in Advanced. I was going in with more of a relaxed mind set, but also pretty much figured that I would be pulling him at some point during the run. I did some focus work with him before our run and then we were in. He actually started off pretty well and I started to get my hopes up. He even did a freaking left pivot! And with eye contact! Unfortunately we had to stop at station 7. It was a simple halt and then walk around your dog. The problem like yesterday was that Heffner decided to look any where but at me and refused to sit. I tried. I really tried. With several different voice inflections and volume levels, but no dice. So we unfortunately quit on a not so positive note. After the pivot I really thought that we might actually be able to make it through the whole course. But it wasn't to be. Oh well.

I do have some other exciting news to share!! I just got back from the first official meeting of our new drill team!!! Woo hoo!!! There are going to be four great danes, a tibetan mastiff, and a bullmastiff (once I send her the group invite). Tonight was an organisational meeting to get things started and figure out which direction we are wanting to go. At the moment, we are going to go in the direction of a musical freestyle drill team, with the eventual aim of also doing some formal obedience drill team work. I think it's going to be a TON of fun! We're going to have our first get together with the dogs next Saturday to start practicing some basic moves and get a feel for how all the dogs and people are going to jive together. I'm REALLY excited!!

I hope that everyone had a great weekend and here's hoping that tomorrow won't be a killer Monday!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Rally Trial Day 1

Today was the first day of the Mt. Hood Keeshond Club's all breed obedience and rally trial. I had Bess entered in Rally Excellent and Heffner in Rally Advanced. It was a very mixed day. Definitely not one of our best, but as always, it's a learning experience. Even though Rally wasn't slated to start until 1:30pm I got to the trial site at 8:00am to set up my crates. And boy was I glad that I had! The crating space was VERY tight! I'll try to take a picture tomorrow to show just how tight everything is. I was honestly tempted to just leave the dogs in the truck and do the running back and forth thing, but that would have been really annoying. Unfortunately I have two rather large soft crates. One of which is only accessible from the side (thanks Heffner!). So I take up a bit of space. Even though I got there an hour before the trial started, I was still scrambling to grab the last of the available spaces. Once I got everything set up, I headed on out to my visit with my parents since they only lived about 20 min. away and we had a few hours to kill.

The dogs had fun hanging out at my parents', but were restless because they obviously knew we came there for a reason and hanging out at grandma and grandpa's wasn't it. So we headed back to the trial site and I got them settled into their crates. Heffner had another great day in the crate, especially in such tight quarters. First up was Bess in Excellent. We were also the very first honor dog, which made me a little nervous since this was our very first time doing the honor position. Thankfully she's got such a solid stay that I wasn't worried and she did great! In the course map that I posted above the finish looks like it's behind the honor spot and a mostly comfortable distance away. Unfortunately it didn't translate onto the course that way. The finish sign was about two feet to the side of where the honor dog was sitting. A slightly uncomfortable position, but Bess did great!

I wasn't sure how quickly things were going to move along, so I sat on a bench outside the ring with Bess to wait our turn. As I said before, things were VERY crowded. There wasn't really a whole lot of space in the aisle way there, or anywhere, so I finally gave up and put Bess back in her crate. It's not worth it to have to constantly readjust your dog while you're waiting to try and avoid them getting stepped on or bumped and jostled.

When we did get into the ring, I was pretty nervous. This was our first crack at the Excellent ring and while I felt that Bess had a good understanding of the stations, I was just plain nervous. Unfortunately my nerves got the better of me on the very first sign. ARG! It's a halt to a stand to a down. I skipped right over the stand part and put her into a down. Which she dutifully did. Only for me to realize that I screwed up and needed to redo the station. Lovely, screwing up right off the bat!

I was pretty happy with the backing up three steps. She didn't do it as straight as she can and I was really hoping that she would knock that one out of the park. When she's on with it, she kind of crouches down and just hauls butt backwards. I have to move pretty quickly to keep up with her. But the backing up was okay.

My next foible came at station 14. And yes, if you look at the course map, it's a VERY simple 270 degree left turn. How could someone possibly screw that up, you might ask? Well let me tell you! By turning 360 degrees and ending up facing the wrong direction and not being able to sort bluff through the mistake. There's another station that had to be redone. Oy! Seriously!

Our next tricky move was the moving down. Bess picked up on this soooo quickly! With her I can actually use the obedience signal for downing and she will do it. We didn't get it completely on our first try. She actually sort of stopped half way down in a crouch, so I opted to redo the station. The second time around she totally nailed it! I most definitely was proud of that.

In the end, we qualified and took first place! Not our most brilliant moment, but that's entirely my fault. D'oh!
Next up was Heffner. We did a little warming up before going into the ring and I felt that he was paying attention really well considering all that was going on. We managed to squeeze our way next to the ring while the dog ahead of us was finishing up and then we were in. Once we stepped into the ring, things pretty much went down hill from there. Getting him to sit at the start was a struggle. He pretty much didn't want to make eye contact with me at all. At our very first station, I had to repeat it twice because he didn't want to move from the down position. I finally just resorted to giving him the command "up," to which he responded by jumping up ON me. We made it through the next three stations some how, though he was really slow to sit on station 3. By the time we got to station 5, he had decided that looking any where but at me was the name of the game and sitting was completely optional. After wasting what felt like an eternity trying to get him to sit for the first portion of the sign, I finally gave up, thanked the judge, and we left the ring. This is pretty much the scenario that I most dread. This would be our worst case scenario. Heffner just totally checks out. At this point, I'm pretty sure it's stress related. That was a really stressful environment with a lot of people and dogs crammed into not a lot of space. I was definitely on edge.

I've been toying with the idea of just pulling him for tomorrow. However, all the utility and open obedience people will be packing up and leaving, so there will be fewer dogs, crates, and handlers about. And I plan on just going in with a different attitude. I'm going in with the plan to pull him from the course on a positive note. Somehow, some way I will find a really positive note to end on and then we will leave the ring. At this point, qualifying with him is not a high priority. I've thought about trying to go to more matches, but we have NONE of these issues at matches. I've also decided that I just won't enter him in any trials being held at this location. I have to be more careful about the locations that I trial him at. They need to be positive experiences, and I just wasn't creating the right atmosphere for him today.

So fingers crossed that tomorrow goes better, regardless of the results!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Book of the Month

My pick for Book of the Month for October is "How to Meditate With Your Dog" by James Jacobsen and Kristine Chandler Madera. When I started thinking about trying meditation and trying it with the dogs, I figured this book would be a great way to sort of figure things out. Unfortunately, I feel like it kind of falls short. To be perfectly honest, I think you can find roughly the same information by searching around online. While Jacobsen at one point states that he didn't want to make the book too long in order to save trees, I actually feel like he was writing this book with a specific word count in mind and was having a hard time coming up with enough content to get there.

While it is always nice to hear people's personal experiences and their take on things, I actually didn't find this book all that helpful. It was pretty superficial. While there were some helpful tips on how to get started, like I already said, it wasn't anything that you couldn't find online by surfing around.

In a nut shell, I would recommend that people save their money and not purchase this book. A friend of mine who has done meditation and has also tried incorporating her great danes into it sent me an email in response to my meditation post and gave me some great recommendations that I do plan on sharing as well. From her synopsis, those books, while not dog related, would be LOADS more helpful than this book.

And with that, I am off to do a little meditating (I think I'm going to have a recurring post about this topic on Mondays for Meditation Mondays ;o), 'cause I'm clever like that) with the dogs, then baths for both, and some lovely sleep before our rally trial tomorrow. Wish us luck!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Stress Stinks!

Bear with me for a few posts here. Things are going to get a little odd for me because I am trying something VERY new and VERY different. This year I have dealt with a pretty overwhelming amount of stress that is predominantly work related. As things of that nature are wont to do, they spill over into the rest of your life. It's gotten to a point where I'm not really dealing with the stress in a manner that is healthy or makes me someone who is always pleasant to be around. My temper has gotten really short with people and I've gotten to a point where I tend to OVER react to situations. And it's just made me an overall less happy person. Not that I consider myself an unhappy person, just less happy than I know I could be. I have been gently encouraged by a few people around me, including my husband, to look into means to help me better deal with my stress and try to get a little more balanced. The flip side to that is that I need to find something that can help relieve my stress that won't, in the end, cause more stress. Sound confusing? Let me explain.;o)

I've had a variety of stress management classes recommended to me, but to be perfectly honest, the idea of taking a class only adds to my stress. Sound weird? Yeah, I know, I'm just wired all sorts of funny! But I can explain!:) In taking a class, I am essentially at the will of someone else's schedule. Which means that I have to sign up for this class on a day or time that most likely won't be as convenient for me. In my case, when it's inconvenient to me, that's usually because it means giving up doing something else that I already want to do or feel committed to. That usually involves spending time with the dogs. As it is, I feel guilty enough that I don't spend enough time with them. A class would only further take time away from them. And it's not just the duration of the class that we're talking about either. There's travel time to be factored in. And with travel, there's potentially dealing with stupid traffic depending on where I'm going and what time of day. I tend to be a little prone to road rage. Shocked? Yeah, I didn't think so!;o) So pretty much what I envision when I think about signing myself up for a stress relieving class is this: I rush home from work to get my things at home in order so that I can leave for class. I leave the house at the exact latest moment I can so as to maximize my time home with Adam and the dogs, which means that I then get highly irritated at any person on the road who is going under the speed limit or just generally not in a hurry to get any where. I then show up to class frazzled and mentally running through the things that I will need to hurry through getting done once I get done with class. I will then spend the rest of the duration of the class feeling guilty for giving up this time with the dogs and thinking about what potential training time I'm missing with them and how that will effect our future performances. Once class is over with, I rush out and hurry home. I get home in time to go back to feeling frazzled and then feeling overwhelmed with all things that I think I should have gotten done that didn't get done because of the class. In a nut shell, a stress relieving class would be anything BUT for me. Therefore, I've looked into things that I can do at home that can also incorporate my dogs!

This is where I will admit it gets a little odd. But like I said, bear with me. I think it could be something pretty fun for me to talk about on the blog and hopefully there will also be some progress that I can share. Are you ready for it? I'm going to try meditating daily with my dogs. There, I said it! Phew! Obviously I was feeling a little weird saying it out loud, but now that it's "out there" I feel a little better.:)

I'm shooting for giving weekly updates on how things are progressing as well as having some specific blog posts about meditation, the various benefits, and other things related. This is something completely new to me and I'm looking forward to seeing what it can do for me as well as the dogs. From what I've read, the benefits are supposed to be mutual. What I'm looking most forward to is some mental clarity. My thoughts tend to run amok inside my head and it would be great to start exerting some control over that and learning how to quiet things down. I think that this could also help the dogs and I in competition in a variety of ways, but I'll get to that in a later post.

Today was actually our very first time trying it out. I had thankfully done some reading ahead of time and was prepared for things to not go quite as I had hoped they would. It'll be a work in progress trying this out with the dogs. For our one experience, the dogs were definitely not entirely sure what I was doing. Usually when I'm on the ground with them, it's because I'm directly interacting with them in some way. It took them a bit to understand that I just wanted them to lay next to me so that I could put a hand on each dog. We did achieve this for a short period of time, but eventually both dogs got up and left. Our total "session" time was 30 min. On the down side, they were a little antsy and had a hard time settling in. On the up side, I have a feeling that once I establish a routine they'll come around. After getting a little taste of meditation for myself, I think I'm going to like it. It's definitely going to take some work though for me to keep my mind quiet. But then again, that's exactly what I need.

So hopefully you don't think I've totally gone off the deep end! It's the same me, I'm just exploring some alternative options to see where they lead.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

'Twas a GREAT Weekend!

I have good news indeed to share! This weekend was another successful agility weekend with Heffner! He continues to stay focus and work with me and I am just so proud of him! Now if only he could have a handler who could get her stuff together. Oy!

I apologize for not updating yesterday. After getting home from the trial there were some chores around the house to get done, time spent with the dogs, and a pent little fawn girl who needed some exorcising (and yes, I most certainly spelled that correctly!). Time just got away from me.

Yesterday morning we were the very first dog in the ring for Novice Jumpers With Weaves. It was a lovely course that flowed very nicely and I was looking forward to it. The good news is that Heffner did great with what I gave him. The bad news is, I pretty much bumbled it. We knocked two bars. Yuck! Naturally, the knocking of the bars was due to me. For the first bar, I botched a front cross. For the second one, I just was lack luster and didn't fully support it before moving on to the next jump. Heffner was great though! Kennedy was there competing with Vegas and our ring times didn't overlap (Excellent Standard was running in the next ring), so she was able to capture our run. For good or for ill, at least it's a learning experience for me. And it's okay if you feel bad for Heffner!LOL

Novice Standard went much better. Or at least while we were running the course. Usually Heffner's pretty good at tuning things out once he's in the ring. For whatever reason he ended up fixating on this wire haired mixed breed dog that was running shortly after us. Our set up at the beginning of the run was a little rough. I knew that once I got his attention back and we started running, we'd be fine. Thankfully the judge was very understanding. If it was a situation where I felt like he was out of control at all, we would have just walked out. For whatever reason, he just got fixated on that one dog. No idea why. But like I said, our Standard run went much better than Jumpers! Well enough that we qualified and finished our Novice title!! Woo hoo!!! Which meant that we got to move up for the next day to Open Standard!! Here's the video:

Today we started of with JWW again and I was hoping that we would be able to qualify and move up and be completely out of Novice. Unfortunately, the bad handler struck again! Ug! It just wasn't pretty at all. Heffner was great, but didn't really get a whole lot of help from me. We REALLY need to start using rear crosses more. He's about 75% on them and I just need to trust him and start using them. Maybe then I won't completely butcher the courses. It was a shame too because it was a nice Jumpers course with NO tunnel.

Our last run of the day was our Open Standard run and I am very pleased to say that it was a qualifying run!! He did sooooooooo well! At one point he did take an off course jump, but he had so much momentum going and I just didn't turn my body ahead of time enough to really cue him well enough to turn. Essentially I was facing the jump that I didn't want him to take instead of turning my whole body to get him to go by it. But he totally rocked the 12 weaves! And I am VERY proud to say that he nailed every single one of his weave pole entrances this weekend! I'm pretty damn proud about that!

This morning Heffner also got a little acupuncture treatment from my friend Rachel who's a vet and happens to run a boxer in agility. Heffner's only had one treatment previously and I totally noticed a difference after that one treatment. Today I noticed the same thing. He was just happier, livelier, and just moved so freely. It's something that I would LOVE to do weekly for him, but the cost for doing it around here is prohibitive. Or at least if I want to be able to do anything else with my dogs. And Rachel currently practices too far away for it to be a reasonable drive for me. I'll do it as often as I can because I have been so pleased with the results for him.
Anywho, now I'm pretty much beat and need to get ready to return to the real world tomorrow. I hope everyone had a great weekend!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Yay For October!!

Can you smell that?? It's the holiday season officially upon us! I switched the dogs' collars over to their Halloween duds and we are ready to get festive!

I started off my new Fridays off schedule by taking the dogs out for a lovely hike. What I had planned on doing was a pretty normallish hike on a relatively easy trail that we haven't been on in a while. The trail is actually more of a neglected Forest Service road, but it's still really enjoyable. Little did I know that they've done some "work" on this trail in the intervening months. They dug up almost the whole thing so that it's now a jumbled mass of dirt and rock. And then, for whatever reason, they also dug these trenches at pretty regular intervals along the way. The result was a hike where you had to constantly keep your mind on where you were putting your feet. Good work out for the dogs, but more of a work out than I had actually planned on. And I ended up on my butt a couple times from the steepness of the trenches that we had to cross. Otherwise, it was a good outing.:)

Once we got back to the house the dogs and I kicked back and did some relaxing. After some indoor snoozing, we went outside so that they could chew on some big cow bones and I could read a book in the nice weather. And that's pretty much been our day. I have to say, I really enjoyed it!

Tomorrow Heffner and I are off for another AKC agility trial and I'm really excited! I'm hoping that he can bring the same happy and attentive dog that he was last weekend.

We also got around to testing out turkey and Heffner's not allergic to it! Yay!! So that means that it was just chicken that was giving him problems. I like that a LOT because turkey is really easy to get a hold of and not terribly more expensive than chicken. My dog budget likes that part.;o)

I'm kind of scatter brained right now, but wanted to shoot out a little update and wish everyone a good weekend! Hopefully I will have good news to share tomorrow!