Tuesday, November 30, 2010
I don't have a whole lot to catch up on even though it's been a week since my last post. We had a very thankfully quiet weekend following the big holiday. Bess and I did have a drill team practice on Sunday. It got pretty cold and our group made it through an hour of practice before we packed everything up.
Last night I was bound and determined to head out to Portland International Raceway (PIR) for the holiday light show. For one day each year they close the track to vehicles and you can bring your dog out and walk the track. While we have yet to have a year with actually good weather in the past five years that I've done this, I still look forward to it! And in true Pacific Northwest fashion, it rained on us. We made it through, but we were totally soaked. My friend Rene (our drill team choreographer) and her husband came along with to help walk a dog. Because of the lighting and my camera, conditions were not perfect for snapping off a ton of pictures, but I did nab a few!
And just in case you're wondering (because I got asked this a LOT last night), the lights that I put on the dogs are battery powered and I bought them at Michael's for $3 or $4 a set. They work out pretty nicely! And this year I was smarter. I brought duct tape along to help secure the battery packs. The packs get heavy once there's actually batteries in them and it becomes difficult to keep everything securely on the dogs as you're walking. So I taped the packs to the dogs' collars.:) I just need to find a way to secure the end of the string to the collar as well to keep them front unravelling.
I also have a couple of pictures of the dogs from the AKC trial that I finally scanned in. Joe Camp takes some really nice pictures! The one of Bess is just too hilarious to pass up!!
As many people may have realized, today is November 30. Which just happens to be the day before December 1. Which just happens to be my most favorite month out of the whole year!! I'm a little bit excited.:) I started decorating the house right after Thanksgiving this year and I have found it so much less stressful to start decorating early than to wait until December 1st and then try to blow through it in a hurry.
I was originally throwing around the idea of not doing the daily Christmas pictures with the dogs this year. I wasn't going to say anything. Just not do them. However, I had some people start asking if I was going to do them and then I started feeling guilty for some reason for planning on skipping it. So I'm going to shoot for doing the daily Christmas pictures again this year! Again, no guarantees that I'll make it through the whole 25 days, but I'm going to try. I started making up a list a couple weeks ago and I think I've got my bases covered. We'll see. And we'll see how "cooperative" the dogs are.;)
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Heffner's Open FAST run:
Bess' Novice FAST run:
Bess' titling Novice JWW run:
Heffner's Open JWW run:
Bess' Open JWW run:
And Heffner's Excellent Standard run:
We didn't have agility class tonight because of the big holiday this week. And since I had some stuff tying me up until later than usual at work, I'm kind of in limbo right now. I will most likely get around to doing some ball work with the dogs tonight, but I have to admit that I'm feeling quite lazy.:)
Monday, November 22, 2010
Day 2 of the CPE trial went much better with Heffner qualifying in every single run! A feat that he had previously not accomplished.:) Bess was close behind qualifying in three out of four runs. It was a great weekend. We had a lot of fun and were pretty tired on Monday. The dogs and I actually took the night off from our usual cardio routine to rejuvenate ourselves and it was delicious being so lazy!
This past weekend I had the dogs entered in all three days of the AKC agility trial up in Ridgefield, WA. On Friday, only JWW and Standard were offered. Heffner qualified in both Open Standard and Novice JWW to finish his Novice JWW title. Bess had an okay day. Her JWW run actually wasn't all that bad except that a miss timed cross caused her to knock a bar. Automatic NQ. For her Standard run she was literally all over the place. Technically we ran the whole course, but we did it in chunks and incurred so many refusals that there was no way that we were going to qualify.
Saturday was a better day! FAST, JWW, and Standard were offered and I had both dogs entered in everything. Both dogs qualified in FAST. Heffner got his first Open FAST leg and Bess got her second Novice FAST leg. Due to a knocked bar on a rear cross that didn't quite work out, his Open JWW was an NQ. Bess Qed in her Novice JWW run to finish that title! Then in Standard, Heffner had a lovely run, completing his third leg for his Open Standard title!! That's right, we were moving up to Excellent for Sunday! Bess' class was at the end of the day and since we were running tall to small, I didn't stick around to see the results for how she did. She had a few sections that were almost zoomies, but otherwise did an okay job on the course. I had thought that we didn't Q, but found out on Sunday that she did in fact Q! Which meant that she qualified in everything that she ran!!
On Sunday only JWW and Standard were offered. Heffner was the first 24" dog in Excellent Standard, which made me a little nervous. I thought that he did a pretty good job all things considered! We did get a tunnel refusal, had to fix a weave pole entrance, and a bounce off the table (one of the not so great things about a CPE weekend right before an AKC weekend, combined with the fact that I don't really ever work the table in practice to differentiate!). Otherwise it was a good run.:) Bess' Standard run was at the tail end of the day and we were running small to tall to boot! She had her best run all weekend and Qed for her second Novice Standard run! In JWW neither dog qualified. Heffner had another knocked bar and Bess had a knocked bar combined with an off course where she took off tearing into the tunnel that was our last obstacle (and did this about half way through the course).
All together it was an excellent weekend and I was very proud of the dogs! On Sunday about mid way through the day it actually started snowing and sticking! There wasn't a ton of accumulation, but enough to make me a little nervous about what it was going to be like driving home. Thankfully once I got out of the Ridgefield area the snow turned into rain and there was no accumulation to be seen.
Today we had another snow warning where the whole area was freaking out and trying to figure out when to shut everything down. That's what happens when you live in an area that doesn't see much snow. The people in charge of taking care of the roads are usually always unprepared and often don't do anything until it's basically pointless. And then people freak out because they're not used to driving in those conditions and create havoc on the road ways. I prefer to keep a large bubble of space around myself to avoid other people getting out of control and in case I start to lose control.
But I digress! I know that the Seattle area got hit today. And as much as it buggers up the traffic around here, I was hoping for snow this evening. The snow would give me the perfect excuse to turn my evening run with the dogs into a play in the snow event where I don't have to feel guilty for not burning off the calories that I should be burning off and keeping myself and the dogs in prime condition. And since it looks like all precipitation has stopped, I'm REALLY not going to have any excuse not to take the dogs out for a run tonight.
Here's to fond thoughts of snow tonight! 'Cause I'm going to have to be at work tomorrow regardless, and the thought of snow makes me feel warm and fuzzy.:)
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Our first class of the day on Saturday was Jackpot. All levels were running together and there were three Jackpot options, but you could only choose one to complete. I picked the one with the teeter because I knew that both of my dogs could handle it and then I'd make up the difference in points after that (you could do the jackpot at any time and didn't have to wait for the buzzer). First up was Heffner. I got him out too early and we were standing around waiting (he was the first dog on the line) for longer than I would have wanted to otherwise. Once the course had opened up for walking, I walked what I planned to do and then went and grabbed Heffner since we were the very first dog up. Unbeknownst to me, the walk through had gotten split between tall dogs and small dogs. Only, the two walk throughs were held back to back, so the total walk through time to get through everyone was closer to 30 min. That was really annoying. And for whatever reason, each group was given a really long time to walk the course, so we stood around waiting for quite some time. In that time, Heffner and I both got a little cold. So when we actually got to start our run, he knocked a few bars while we were running around. As I sent him over the first jump for the jackpot, he knocked that bar and our jackpot was negated. No Q
Next up was Bess. She was staying pretty calm and I felt good about our chances. She was nailing her jumps and then I sent her to the jackpot. She nailed the jump and moved nicely away from me to take the teeter. Nailed her down contact. And then as I was sending her over the final jump to nail our contact, she got the zoomies and tore out of the ring. She did come back to me, but that was it for that run. Oh yeah, and somehow I forgot to take her collar off (CPE doesn't allow you to run with a collar on). D'oh!
Next up was Snooker. It's a games course that I actually like. It keeps you thinking and you really have to work your handling. The course that we had on Saturday though was evil. It doesn't look too bad until you realize that three out of the four red jumps are all close together on the start line. There were sooooo many dogs that didn't quite do a threadle and took two consecutive red jumps and thus ending the game. It was very interesting to see so many of the more experienced handlers playing the game as safely as they could and really slowing down around those jumps. There were not a lot of Q's on that course.
Heffner was actually doing fantastic on this run. Really staying with me and going where I wanted. Unfortunately, I didn't plan our course terribly well and didn't utilize the 7 point A-frame the way that I should have. This bit me in the butt in the end. I didn't do a good job of getting Heffner over the #5 jump and into the 90 degree turn to the tunnel and he knocked a bar. So that ended our run. Unfortunately, I hadn't planned a good enough course for us to have enough points prior to that. We needed to make it through the tunnel in order to have enough. Oh well.
Bess was up after him. She was going really well and I had a better game plan for her. Until our threadle didn't work so well and she took a second red jump. D'oh! But at least I remembered to take her collar off!;)
Next up was Standard. For this class I was going to have to hustle a little. Both dogs were at the same level and same jump height. There were a total of four dogs at our jump height, which left only two dogs in between mine. It ended up working out totally fine since both were crated inside and I had warned the gate steward ahead of time. Heffner ran beautifully and Qed! I was really pleased. Bess was doing okay until the weaves. She tried to by-pass them entirely and it took us a few tries to get through them. Then as she came out of the tunnel she took off zooming across the ring. She didn't actually leave the ring and I did get her back and finish the course, but it was an NQ.Our final class of the day was Jumpers. The dogs were in different levels, so that aspect was easy. The courses were quite nice and both dogs sailed through with nice qualifying scores. I did have to restart Bess on her weaves, but the second time was the charm.
Because it's starting to get late, I'm going to leave off with the recap of just day 1. I'll finish updating about our much better day on Sunday tomorrow. But before I do that, I'll leave you with a couple of pictures taken of the dogs and I tonight after our run. The rain is back and no amount of "clever" timing on my part was going to position us for running during a break in the rain. So I put the dogs' rain coats on and off we went! Heffner was pretty enthusiastic throughout the run, Bess not so much. She's not overly fond of running in her rain coat and I think she was less than thrilled at the amount of flooding on the paths that we were running on. You tell me if she looks pleased.;)
Monday, November 15, 2010
I hope everyone had a great weekend!
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
I love reading about how she goes about training a very nontraditional breed in obedience and agility specifically. So by all means, head on over and check them out!
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Saturday, November 6, 2010
This most certainly is quite the accomplishment and something to be terribly proud of!!
I would also like to thank everyone for the well wishes and kind words yesterday. It means a lot!
Friday, November 5, 2010
Thursday, November 4, 2010
This book gives a general insight into the variety of dog attributes that are genetically linked, and generally how they are. Less tangible things such as temperament and more tangible aspects such as coat color are all discussed. While there are sometimes complicated equations that go along with figuring out the heritability of some things, huge chunks of the book are not devoted to this. The author was well aware that the majority of people looking to gain information from this book were not likely to have an extensive background in genetics. Therefore, the equations are more of a passing interest in the book. Because they are part of figuring out the genetic likelihood of some things, they are included. Otherwise, they are skimmed over.
I found the information quite interesting and Willis brought up topics of interest to dog breeders that I hadn't really considered as potentially genetically linked. Things such as litter size or fertility. While a lot of these aspects have environmental factors that play a large part, the genetic possibilities are also discussed. It also gives valuable insight into why some breed standards are written the way they are.
Overall, I thought it was a very interesting book for anyone who is looking to get their hands wet in the sometimes pretty complex world of dog genetics. As a caveat I will say that the topic of coat color inheritance is generally discussed with the understanding that there are other authors who have devoted entire books to that specific topic. I would most definitely recommend this book!
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
I never really thought about how they got to that point, I just kind of thought it was one of those things that you either have or you don't. Until an obedience lesson that we had a few weeks ago. Our instructor had me doing some focus exercises with Heffner a few times and I think I just wasn't entirely getting it. Things weren't quite going the way they should have and I'm pretty sure now it was because things weren't clicking in my head. It wasn't until she brought out her new puppy and was doing a little bit of focus work with him that I actually got it. I was amazed that this little puppy, who was only a few weeks old, could have such rapt attention on his handler while outside in a very distracting area with a completely new person next to him. And he's a french bulldog to boot! Not a breed who is known for being terribly malleable.
I've started out small and we're working our way up and I am really pleased with the results that I'm getting so far. What I'm doing is placing a bunch of goodies in both of my hands. I start by hanging my closed hands at my sides with the dog sitting in front of me. Whenever the dog makes eye contact with me, I immediately say yes and they get a cookie. We do this several times. Usually the dogs pick up on it pretty quickly. Though Heffner, the food whore, took several tries before he started catching on to what I wanted. And their eye contact is unprompted by me. I just stand there silently until they make eye contact.
The next step I took was holding my hands behind my back. Bess caught on immediately and Heffner caught on a little faster than he did with my hands at my side. After that I stood there with my arms out stretched to either side of me. That was pretty difficult for Heffner. He wanted to keep looking back and forth between my hands. So I had to be really quick with the yes and the treat for the moments of eye contact that I was getting.
As I said, Bess caught on to this really fast. And I'm terribly surprised. When we practice stays, she usually maintains eye contact with me while she's in the sit or down. Now though, she will practically bore holes into my eyes when we do it. I've increased the duration of eye contact required for her before she gets the cookie and she totally gets it. I love it!! Heffner is even really starting to catch on, though I can tell that he still really wants to watch my hands.
The benefits are amazing! With Bess, especially when she knows that I've got treats on me some where, her fall back response when we're just hanging out or waiting for something is to look me in the eye and just stare me down. Last night in agility we worked that a lot. While other dogs were running and we were just hanging out, I would look just over her head and off to the side. I could tell that she was trying to make eye contact. I would wait for a bit, then make eye contact, tell her yes and give her a treat. She was totally into it! This better focus that she's getting is spilling out into other things as well. Our heeling is getting better with her making more eye contact. She pretty much automatically looks me in the face when we halt. She's just getting so much more attentive that I have these happy little mental pictures of us one day being one of those teams that I have envied. I now feel like that is something that is eventually attainable for me.
It's also benefiting Heffner as well. He's starting to make eye contact more. While we've done plenty of focus games in the past to redirect him and keep him from reacting negatively to things, this is a little different. He has to be totally in tune to me. Not to what's in my hand. He needs to make eye contact with me and hold it until I release him. It's something that he's getting the concept of and I know that it will benefit us all over the place. I try to work it into every day opportunities more so than with Bess. I always put him in a sit stay shortly before he gets each meal. Previously I used to time him for the stays. Now I stand in front of him, wait for him to look away, and as soon as he comes back to me and looks me full on in the eyes, I release him and he gets to eat. He's catching on to that nicely!;o)
Plus, it just feels good! I feel totally in sync with my dogs when we're looking at each other like that.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
The black bitch is the one who went Winners Bitch both days.
Thanks for taking the video Kennedy!
Monday, November 1, 2010
First up was conformation. We've gone back to having me handle Bess. I am happy to say that she showed better than she's shown in a while. She's free stacking lovely and she's not acting miserable in the ring. Unfortunately, our judge was not a fan of Bess. We've shown to her once before and had essentially the same result. In the Winners Bitch ring we got a cursory look, while the other bitches got a good going over. We might as well have been excused from the ring for all the look we were getting. Oh well. That's how it goes. So nada in conformation.
Then we went over to the Rally ring. We did some warming up and things were going well. However, shortly before going into the ring Bess started acting funny. Sort of off. She was reluctant to sit and just was kind of acting not all there. There wasn't anything obviously wrong with her, so we went into the ring and ran our course. The course was pretty nice. Bess was just acting off though. When we came to the pivot station, she sat about three feet away from me. I'm probably exaggerating, but that's what it felt like. So we redid that station and did better the second time around. Once we got done with our run, I took her outside and she immediately had diarrhea. I felt pretty bad for her at that point. The poor girl had obviously been feeling really uncomfortable the whole time and I just hadn't figured out what was going on. She was back to normal by the time we got home, but at that moment she wasn't feeling too great.
On the up side, we qualified, finishing her Rally Excellent title with a score of 85, taking fourth place!!
Sunday, I opted to not show Bess in Rally. I had only entered her in Excellent and we needed to qualify in Advanced as well as Excellent to start working towards her RAE. Conformation was more of the same. Bess showed well again, but we still didn't get much of a look in the Winners Bitch ring.
All in all it was a pretty good weekend! I hope that everyone else had a great weekend!