Saturday, April 30, 2011

Friday And Saturday Recap

The theme for Friday was holy freaking wind Batman! There was a high wind advisory warning for the area, to which I wanted to yell D'uh! at the weather people on the TV. All you had to do was try to step outside without the door getting ripped from your hand to realize that it was slightly gustier than normal.

Because we couldn't start setting up until 1pm, the dogs and I had a nice and leisurely morning. I had wanted to take them for a bit of a walk in the morning, but anything extended was ruled out because the only thing tethering me to the ground was my grip on the dogs leashes. Bess was also being a bit of a pain in the ass on leash. Pretty much acting like a puppy who hadn't be walked much. It was annoying and I couldn't figure out what the heck her deal was. She was also being a bit obnoxious in the room. Though she had been a super spooner during the night. All thing that really should have clued me in for what was to come. But I'll get to that.;0)

Once it was time I loaded the dogs into the truck and we headed to the show grounds, which are absolutely gorgeous! I don't have pictures right now, but I will try and steal someone else's lovely pictures of the drive in. This place is just beautiful! The temperatures were cool enough that even with the effort of putting up the tent and x-pens on my own, I kept a light jacket on the whole time. And did I mention that there was a wee bit of wind? Do you know how much fun it is to put up one of those pop-up type tents in ridiculous wind? I had to actually take the material part of the tent off in order to just get the frame up. Even with that the metal frame managed to get blown over once. As soon as that puppy was up, it got staked into the ground! I'll spare you all the details and much cursing on my part while I got everything figured out in order to afford the dogs the maximum among of shade and privacy (which took a freaking hour!). The above picture is the final product. The shade cloths rock! And the tarp was there to pull down so that Heffner could chill in his little cave. Everything has worked out well so far and I haven't had any issues with either dog getting hot.

Heffner actually did a lot better this year with regards to barking. There was barking any time there was an intact male around his x-pen yesterday, but that went way down today. Our neighbors actually were way worse than he was. And interestingly enough, he was only barky when I was near the x-pens. When I wasn't in our the vicinity of our set up, he was quiet. A little bit of the protector dog is obviously in effect when I'm around.

But back to Friday. Friday afternoon there was a conformation match as well as an obedience and rally match. I was definitely looking forward to the obedience match because it was going to be in the same ring that we would actually be competing in. First up, I took a cute little harl puppy bitch in for the conformation match. She was very sweet, but not terribly thrilled to have me on the other end of the leash. After that I took each dog over to the obedience match. First up was Heffner. With the crazy wind blowing about, a lot of the dogs were having a hard time focusing. And while we've done some work outside to sort of proof for outdoor trials, we just don't see wind like this in our area. Heffner was super distracted and our run was a bit distracting. Alrighty, I thought, lets try Bess. She too was really distracted and seemed to have forgotten how to sit. THAT should have been a red flag to me. Thankfully, we were practicing in an area where the actual trial ring was not going to be set up. Because I found out later that night that Bess HAD COME INTO SEASON! ARG!!! (and this is where I should also add that where the obedience ring had been set up for the match was not where it was set up for the trial the next day, so her sexy butt didn't contaminate the competition ring for the intact boys;0) )

She was looking a little bit swollen, but not like she normally does when she's in season. And she wasn't due in for another two weeks. But by about 10pm last night, there was some bloody discharge and she was definitely getting more swollen. Damn! No in season bitches competing at performance events. Which meant that I had to pull Bess from rally and obedience today. Double damn!

At least I still had Heffner. Well, sort of. Do you remember last year how I had some minor problems with Heffner at this venue? Yes, well, we sort of revisited that. I made sure he peed more than was necessary before our rally run. So we were good there. He was the first honor dog and our judge was awesome and had the dogs in a down. Something that I wasn't really thinking about with Heffner before we entered into Excellent is that he will have to hold the honor position for however long that dog and handler team take to complete the course. And not everyone is super speedy in finishing the course. And he's not terribly thrilled about holding a sit for an extended period of time. But he did awesome for his very first time honoring another dog! A few dogs later it was his turn. We started off well enough, but then he got really sniffy with the grass and the signs. I was a little paranoid that we were going to have a reenactment of the marking of the station sign, but we didn't. Instead he decided to drop a deuce in the ring. ARG!!! As soon as I saw it coming, I just threw my hand up and said that we were done. Because Heffner was slow getting into proper pooping position, the judge didn't at first realize why I had given up since the station we were at required a sit. Then the first turdlit came out and he got the picture.;0)

Alright, so rally didn't go the way that we had expected. I had been tempted to pull him from obedience because he was still fairly distracted, but damn if I wasn't going to try and salvage something out of our morning! Our heeling was rough. There was much lagging and going out of position and a total lack of halting. Our figure 8 wasn't too bad. He definitely has the idea of the speed changes, he just wasn't staying in position. But we did actually have sits on the halts. SWEET! Something we've been practicing has definitely made it through even in trying situations! The stand for exam went well, though I had meant to start him in a sit and he didn't really feel like it. Then we got set up for the heel off leash. As I was getting him into a sit, two people from the kennel walked two of the dogs to the exercise yard that next to the obedience ring. Just as we were about to start, they let the two dogs off leash to run and romp around. At which point Heffner went tearing across the ring and up the fencing to bark and growl at the two dogs. Awesome! I went running after him and got him by the collar. The judge tried to help me salvage something out of it by telling me to just call him back to me, but I already knew that wasn't going to work. I asked to be excused because there was no way that I was going to be able to get his attention back on me enough to finish a whole off leash heeling pattern. Sucky!!!!

So yeah, our morning of rally and obedience went right down the pooper. At least we still had parade of performance title holders to go! Heffner was first in and we got a lot of nice compliments on him as we were waiting to enter the ring. And we got a freaking huge ass ribbon with his name on it!
After a quick swap out, Bessy got her turn around the ring in which I amped her up just a wee bit much and in her excitement and want to play, she almost made me bite it. She also got a big ass ribbon with her name on it.:)
Bess was still entered in conformation since it doesn't matter if your bitch is in season or not for those classes. She ended up taking second out of three in that class. Not bad!

I did manage to take a little video of the breed ring, but I will have to post that after I get home because this post has already gotten very long and I still need to pack things up tonight so that we can check out tomorrow morning. Keep your fingers crossed that we still have enough wind to keep the temperatures cool enough while we're at the show, but that the wind dies down once we're packed up and ready to leave. 'Cause I seriously don't feel like battling those winds for another 300+ miles on the drive north tomorrow afternoon!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

We Made It!

We made it safely to Lodi today and thankfully without incident. There was fresh snow in the pass on the way down and it was snowing while we were going through, but we thankfully didn't have any problems. The biggest pain in the butt was the 200+ miles of wicked windy highway. I hate wind to begin with, but driving in it really sucks. Especially when you feel like you're going to get blown off the road!

As you can see from the picture, the dogs have settled in quite nicely.:0) Even though they are both serious bed hogs, I'm looking forward to having them sleeping in the bed with me while we're down here.

We've basically spent our entire day driving, so not really much to report. Though I thought I'd post some pictures of the well organised and packed truck.;0)

The sad part is that everything won't fit so nicely when I'm quickly taking down all our stuff and trying to pack the truck up in an orderly manner, but still get the heck out of dodge on Sunday afternoon. I seriously need a van!

And guess what?! I get to sleep in tomorrow!! We can't start setting up our pop-up tents until 1:00pm, so I get to have a nice kicked back morning with the dogs.:) Here's hoping that the wind isn't quite so powerful tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Blur....

The past few days have been a total blur of getting things ready both at work and at home, for our departure to Lodi, CA early tomorrow morning. I think I've mentioned Lodi a fair number of times, but not necessarily what we're going down there for. Each year the Great Dane Club of Northern California hosts a fantastic two day specialty that is truly an event worthy of making an annual tradition! This year they're even upping the anty! On the Friday before the specialty, they've previously held just a conformation match. This year they added in an obedience and rally match!! Woot!!

Saturday is an all day fun event filled with rally, obedience, conformation, a great raffle, great company, and topped by a delicious BBQ dinner. I've got Bess and Heffner both entered in rally and obedience, with a friend of mine willing to help out during the stays since both dogs are entered in Novice A and you need one handler per dog. They're then both entered in the parade of performance title holders.:) I couldn't resist that! And Bess is entered in conformation.

Sunday is shorter day with "just" conformation. With 101 conformation entries on Saturday and 95 entries on Sunday, they will be some very long, but fun days. I will be sure to take as many pictures and as much video as I can. I've packed my battery charger as well as my laptop along so that I will be able to update with posts as I am able!

The dogs have had their nails dremmeled and their baths out of the way. The truck is as packed as it's going to get until tomorrow morning. And I am now heading off to clean myself up and get ready for our 10+ hour drive tomorrow. Wish us luck!!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Happy Birthday Bess!!

Today is Bess' 4th birthday! After having so much fun putting together Heffner's birthday slide show, I decided to do one for Bess as well. The pictures are from roughly the first year and a half that we had her. Unfortunately no baby pictures because we didn't get her until she was 11 months old. And naturally, the clip is long, so enjoy what you can.:0)

Heffner I went to an AKC agility trial on Saturday. No Q's, but a Standard run that narrowly missed the mark and I was still proud of. More of that in the next day or two. Two more days until we leave for Lodi!!!!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Photo Friday

The Photo Friday challenge for this past week was Lines. I had a couple of things in mind, but decided to go with this bridge shot. Unfortunately the weather was really nice when we went, so I had a harder time getting the exact shot that I wanted because there were plenty of people back and forth across the bridge. I was going for a shot of just Heffner's head framed by the wooden rails. It worked though. Naturally I took several shots to see what I ended up liking. Here are the "rejects:"

Happy Friday everyone!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Take A Nap

We worked a bit on the Take A Nap trick and got it pretty much there with Bess. With more work I'm confident that I could get Bess to fully unroll the mat without a treat hiding inside, I just was wanting to move on to working on other tricks! Heffner started losing interest when there wasn't a cookie hiding inside the rolled up mat. He has the basic understanding of the trick, but I didn't spend enough time phasing out the rolled up cookie with him to really finish the trick. Either way, I'm happy with where we got on this trick and we had fun with it! And guess what! I managed to make a short video!LOL I cut out a lot of the initial work that we did with just going to the mat in the beginning. I was a little bored with it, so it got cut. I hope you enjoy!

A week from tomorrow the dogs and I head down to Lodi, CA for the big northern California great dane specialty!! I'm REALLY excited, but the list of things that I still need to take care of before I start packing on Wednesday night is growing! I kind of tend to forget about little things like doing the dogs nails and bathing both of them the night before we leave, and suddenly I have a lot less time in my evening. And this weekend we've got an agility trial on Saturday and all the Easter family stuff on Sunday. It's going to be a crazy next few days getting ready! It will be a much needed mini vacation though, and I'm looking forward to it.:0)

Monday, April 18, 2011


Wow is pretty much how I felt today about Heffner after our obedience lesson. The boy was freaking awesome! Off leash heeling felt so good and he was really on it with the turns, speed changes, and halts. As we were going along I kept thinking, he is just totally on today. My feelings were affirmed when our instructor stated that that was the best heeling he has done. :0) And THAT was the best positive reinforcement that I could receive! And it gets better!!

With the trial looming in less than two weeks now, I've really had a fire under my butt to get working on the stuff that I've known I need to be working on, but haven't put as much effort into. Things like speed transitions for the figure eight. We've been working on it and it thankfully was showing with Heffner. For Heffner I decided to start our figure eights going to the right. It just works better for him to start out at a faster pace by being on the outside of the loop. He's happier and he's more up when he gets to move out. And he was nailing it today! He was picking up his pace in the same general spots that we've been practicing and it just felt so good! Another total high!

The final crowning glory of Heffner's portion of the lesson was the dumbbell. This post would turn into a real novel if I gave the whole back story of how I've been training each dog to work with the dumbbell, so I'll get to that in another post. In a nut shell, dumbbell work hasn't been going all that spectacularly with Heffner and I was having some difficulties figuring out how to get it to make sense to him. And because nothing can be easy, methods that have worked with Bess totally don't work with him. So I was a little hesitant when it came time for a little work with the ole dumbbell in our lesson. Things had been starting to click at home for Heffner, but we were making slow progress and I wasn't sure how well he was going to do in the class setting. Well, he pretty much blew me away! The beginning was a little rough with a few unasked for drops of the dumbbell, but the rest was freaking great. He was happily trotting around the ring with me, going over the high jump of his own volition and when directed, doing turns, and basically frolicking with me around the ring, ALL WHILE HOLDING THE DUMBBELL IN HIS MOUTH!! I cannot fully express the sheer magnitude of how awesome that was! I was just ecstatic that he was having such a great time with this "dreaded device" in his mouth!

Today, Heffner was an obedience super star.:0)

Bess was having a bit of an off day. It was like the dogs switched mind sets or something. Bess was sluggish and just didn't have her normal panache while we worked. I am just going to chalk it up to her having an off day. 'Cause the other option is not as much fun to ponder with two obedience trials coming up in two weeks. Bess is due to go into season about the middle of next month. I've already started noticing some of the behavioral changes that go along with that, so I'm pretty sure that she'll be on time. The down side of this is that her mind tends to wander and she's not as into working during this time. As I said, I've got her entered in obedience on the 30th of this month and the 8th of next month. Having an unfocused dog in the ring isn't exactly something that I want to worry about. So I'm not. She was having an off day and we'll get back on track just in time for competition.:)

I hope everyone had a great weekend!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Needing Inspiration

As I was scanning in Bess' win picture from two weekends ago (and I will get around to posting it!), I realized that I have been sorely lacking in the picture taking department. This is probably going to sound incredibly anal retentive, but it helps me to keep the pictures organized and it's a lot easier for me to find what I'm looking for. I keep all the pictures I take of the dogs in one large folder. Within that folder, I have the pictures saved in folders categorized by the month and year that they were taken. Therefore all pictures taken in April of 2011 are in one folder. Makes saving very easy! The sad part came when I realized that I'm half way through the month and the April 2011 folder doesn't have a whole lot of pictures in it. It's not as though we haven't been out doing things, I've just felt very uninspired lately to actually take pictures. And it's kind of been that way for the past few months.

Last year I started out doing the 52 Weeks For Dogs and I was doing pretty well. I was getting those weekly pictures in and I was pretty happy with some of the shots that I was getting. Shots that I might not have put the effort into trying to get otherwise. Then I fell off the wagon. And just stopped going for it all together. I REALLY want to go back to trying to capture great pictures of the dogs, but I'm just feel so blah about it! I'm very uninspired. I feel like we're just going to all the same places and I'm just taking all the same pictures. I need a challenge! I need a group that will post weekly challenges to strive for. One that will give me a constant weekly goal to work towards. The 52 Weeks group was great, but the actual challenges were a little sporadic and I was having a harder time coming up with stuff on my own. As horrible as it sounds, I need a little regular direction in this area to get my creative juices flowing! And I think I've found just the group I've been looking for.:0)

It's a group called Photo Friday. They post a weekly challenge of sorts each Friday. You take the challenge and interpret it in your own way. I really like it! There's a fairly large group of people participating, so if I get into a rut, I can look over their pictures and get some ideas. The really great part is that the people involved are taking pictures of a wide variety of things. It's not just dog people taking pictures of dogs. While that's where my focus will be, I can hopefully get some fresh ideas from some of what others are posting, and incorporate that into a picture with one or both of the dogs. The added bonus is that I can use either dog as I see fit, or both of them in the shot. I'm pretty excited about it and I already have some ideas for this week's challenge!

Now on to Bess' win picture! Unfortunately, I'm not thrilled with how Bess looks in the picture. I was hoping for a pretty stellar picture since it's been a while since we've had a win picture. Overall her body looks fine, but her head, not so much. And I'm really picky about her head. Oh well. Regardless, we still got the point! I will leave you with a better win picture.:0)

Friday, April 15, 2011


I know it's a corny catch phrase, but seriously, TGIF! I started thinking it was Friday yesterday when I woke up and what a disappointment that was when I realized what day it really was! I've been itching to post because I've had a few different half baked ideas in my head. I even started to write a couple of times, but I was too pressed for time or wasn't concentrating on what I was doing and the posts were boring me as I was writing them. Never a good thing!

Anyhow, work has been crazy busy. Kind of becoming the new norm. I remember thinking in March how I couldn't wait for the month to be over because April started looking so nice schedule wise. Then a contract project got scheduled. And then I needed to collect some additional samples on different groups all over the place. And the list just kept piling on. So April has been a little wacky and May is going to be positively mind boggling with what I know I've got coming on tap. Oh yeah, and we're still down a technician. Oy! I got frustrated thinking of the inevitable mornings of not working the dogs with having to get to work early enough to fit everything in, and I just started getting up at 5:00am so that I could have that time. It was totally worth it though! I didn't feel rushed with the dogs and I had the piece of mind that they were getting an "appropriate" amount of me time in the morning. Plus we got to work on things that needed working on, which eases my mind in the whole training achievements category. In a nut shell, what could have been cause for more stress actually turned out to relieve a fair amount!

Regardless though, I'm feeling a bit frazzled from the exertions of the week, and have a wooooonderful evening of absolutely nothing planned. I'm sitting here in sweats as we speak, sipping on some lovely hard cider that Adam brewed. And the dogs are wrestling most obnoxiously behind me. Life is excellent at the moment! Aaaaaaaaand this post needs pictures! I just happen to have a few random pictures on my memory card that I shall share with you.

P.S. Don't let the pictures food you. Bess is still one crazy biatch!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Good Times

I realized that I hadn't scanned in and uploaded pictures of Bess from our agility class holiday party! We had a lot of fun playing the games and Kathy, our instructor, took some great shots of everyone! Here's the group shot: Pictures really do help to liven up the posts.:0)

This morning I headed out to Sherwood for an obedience match hosted by our obedience club. I had both dogs entered in Novice. I was over all happy with where they were at. I was actually quite thrilled with Heffner's off leash heeling. It was actually better than the on leash portion and his halts are getting so much better (as long as I remember to take a few steps before halting. He doesn't stop on a dime like Bess will). We still need to work on our transitions on the figure eight, but I am in fact working on that. Now that I officially have the dogs entered in Novice at the upcoming great dane specialty in California, I have a lot of incentive to work on the little things that need more work. And just like last year, we're going to have to start practicing on grass again to make sure that we're prepared for the show site. I definitely feel a lot more prepared going into it this time now that we have some real training under our belts. Four months of training with only one month of that under an instructor was just NOT enough time to be prepared last year. Then again, I knew that going in.;0)

Adam's aunt Kathy also stopped by to watch and she brought along her vizsla puppy, Kona! He is ridiculously adorable! Totally wasn't phased by everything going on. He also wasn't phased by Heffner giving him a warning growl when he poked his nose under the privacy shade on Heffner's crate! Heffner was quite good at tolerating the puppy around his crate (he's not terribly tolerant of most dogs being around his crate, though he has gotten a lot better) for about the first half of the time we were there, then started getting a little grumpy with the spry little boy playing around his crate. I think Kona thought that Heffner just needed a hug and a friend and then he wouldn't be so grumpy any more. Heffner thought otherwise.;0) It is interesting to see Heffner moderate his response when it's a puppy that's annoying him versus an adult dog. He let it be known that he wasn't thrilled about the situation, but was content to grumble while laying down in his crate. An adult dog in the same proximity doing the same thing would have garnered more than a grumble and Heffner would have been standing up.

I also realized that there were two tidbits that I forgot to mention in my post yesterday. The first is that I received approval from the powers that be at work to do a "talent" with both dogs at our center wide talent show. It's a bigger deal than it seems since our director passed a rule last year that no dog over 30 lb. was allowed on campus, period. Not even inside someone's vehicle. Because of this rule, I had to get special approval to have them on campus and there's still a form that I have to fill out regarding it. My hopes are that the dogs will do such a fantastic dog and impress the director (who's one of the judges) that she will realise how much better behaved and trained my large dogs are than the small dogs that have been allowed, that she may rethink her decision. Not that I would be able to bring my dogs in to work with me, but there are a few times that it would be incredibly convenient to have them waiting in the truck while I take care of some stuff really quick. Anyhow, we got approval and now I'm putting together a list of things that would be entertaining for them to do and hopefully just a little bit impressive!

Bess also had her first chiropractor appointment on Friday. For me personally, I think it's beneficial to have both dogs periodically seen by a chiropractor to take care of little kinks here and there. It's a lot better than waiting until something minor becomes something major. I didn't have any majors concerns about Bess, I just wanted to make sure that while she was recovering from her chest gash last year, that she hadn't started compensating in some weird way. Thankfully she hasn't. Her right shoulder was a bit sore, but it's hard to say whether that was as a result of her romp with the elk on Thursday night or if the soreness was already there. Either way, she's doing great and will see Sandra again in two weeks to make sure that everything is still good. Then she'll just go to seeing Sandra every few months for routine maintenance, so to speak.

I hope everyone has had a great weekend!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Week In Review

Heffner's new Rally Advanced titling picture came! I decided not to wait for the judge to get done with Rally Novice to get a picture since it was already after 7:00pm when we got this picture taken.

This week has been crazy busy at work and at home. My work hours have been quite packed and filled with early mornings. We thankfully have such a great group of people working together that we were able to pull everything off and keep it all on schedule, but it made for a really tiring week.

So I had early mornings at work, which entailed either skipping the dogs' morning exercises or getting up earlier than usual to fit them in. Which I did opt to do on a couple of days. Once I got home from work I would quickly feed them so that they would hopefully chill out while I did my physical therapy exercises (I am totally getting stronger and can see differences!!). I have opted to baby gate them OUTSIDE of the room that I do my exercises in. They're just too "helpful" when I'm trying to do them. Once that was done, it was time for a little training and then our combined cardio! By the time Friday came around, I was feeling pretty fried from basically hitting the ground running from the time I got up to the time I went to bed. But it was all worth it when I got to sleep in this morning!

We had a bit of excitement on Thursday night. The weather was too gorgeous and I opted to take the dogs out for what was intended to be a quick one hour hike instead of the jogging that we were otherwise going to do. It was so incredibly nice out and both dogs had a blast running around. As we were getting back to the truck I decided to take them down to the near by creak for a little drink and playing in the water. I figured it would only tack on an extra 10, maybe 15 min. Plans changed when Bess got hot on the trail of some elk that had wandered through. When she disappeared around a corner, Heffner and I went looking for her. Which lead to him smelling the elk and also giving chase after everyone. I opted to take the "easier" trail to the hill top they were running around and that's when I realized exactly what they were chasing. The "trail" that I was taking was churned up by several elk hooves. I'm not entirely sure how many there were, but far more than one. Anyhow, the dogs had their fun, no one got hurt, and they came back quite pleased with themselves. Heffner not too surprisingly, had the better of the two recalls. Bess took her time coming back.

In all, our little side trip tacked on an extra half hour, which meant that it was getting pretty dark by the time we actually got back to the truck. While the recall off of running elk wasn't what I would hope it would be, their recalls otherwise have gotten a lot better. When we go out hiking I practice random recalls with them. Our first recall of the night was about 15 min. into the hike and was so awesome that I wish I had been filming it! I called their names and the command "here" and both of their heads simultaneously whipped around and they started trotting back to me. There were some good cookies for that immediate response!

Otherwise it's been business as usual around here. I got to sleep in this morning because we didn't have any dog shows, trials, or matches scheduled for today. That was really nice! Though the dogs really don't like it when I sleep in. They both kept poking their heads into the crack of the bedroom door to see if I was going to get up. Bess finally just started whining at about 8:00am. Which is something in and of itself since she's much more of a moaner and groaner than a whiner. AND Adam had already gotten up and taken them out to potty. It's a rough life when you don't get breakfast on time.;0)

I hope that everyone is enjoying their weekend!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Four Feet In A Box

I've seen the four feet in a box trick done by a few different people, but each one of them has a herding breed dog. The dogs that you would typically think about as "traditional" breeds. I never really thought too much of it other than it looked neat to have a dog balancing with four feet inside a tiny space. As I've mentioned before, we've been following along with the Smooth Sailin' Agility blog's trick a week. While we don't usually accomplish training a trick a week, it's given me some great things to try with the dogs. And they are having a blast! When she posted the Four Feet In A Box trick, I decided to go for it and see how far I got with the dogs. Technically, our only limitation was the size of the dogs feet. I am very proud to say that the dogs did great! We don't do trick training on back to back days and we don't train the same trick(s) each session. I've found that the dogs are more eager for our training sessions when they have at least a day in between without. So we've been slowly picking away at this trick and got to as small of a container as I can manage for each dog. And here's the video:

Once we progressed beyond the plastic containers, we hit a bit of a road block with the cardboard box. First I kept the sides too high and the dogs were having a more difficult time balancing and figuring out how to maneuver each foot over tall sides. Once I cut the sides of the boxes down, things moved along a lot quicker.

Then I had a problem with the bottom of the boxes being too slick. The front were fine pressed up against the front of the box, but the back feet would slide as they were getting placed. This led to more cautious dogs who weren't really thrilled about trying to balance on a relatively slick surface. I tried spraying the bottom of the box with water, but that just got absorbed and we were back to the same low traction. I tried adding hair spray to the bottom to make it sticky, but that didn't really work either. The one trick that I found worked really well was coating the bottoms with duct tape. And we just happened to have some neon orange duct tape "lying around." :) Once there was traction, the dogs were happy.

Bess impressed me the most with her little box that she was able to balance in. Heffner's feet just wouldn't all fit in there and I wasn't about to even try it. I continued to work with him in his smallest box, while I continued to work with Bess.

I was also impressed with how Bess went from being very cautious about offering anything to happily hopping in and out of the box and being willing to actually try offering things. I should make a video of that alone. If you could see the entirety of her very first video compared with her last one, it was a HUGE difference.

Happy training!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Elated Weekend Recap!

I just want to start this post off by saying we had a fantastic and productive weekend! I'm pretty much on cloud nine right now.:0) So lets get to it!

The weekend started off on April Fool's day with both the dogs entered in Rally. It was a later starting day, but that was okay because I had some much needed errands to run in the morning and my mom was also coming down to check out the golden retriever specialty, to connect with some breeder's and get on a waiting list for a puppy. I was a little concerned at first when we got down to Albany because it was 70 degrees. While that's not terribly hot, going from temps in the 40's to a temp of 70 is not something that Heffner enjoys. It took a little while to get him settled down in his crate and cooled off enough that I felt okay leaving him. I then got to go over and watch the goldens with my mom and meet some really nice people.

Our first run of the day was Excellent B with Bess. I was not the best handler and in a few areas didn't really give Bess adequate room to move properly with the sign and myself. Thankfully she's a clever girl and can get out of her own way and therefore saved us. She was very excited to go over the jump and that's when I started really having a happy dog. Probably my proudest moment was on the backing up while staying in position station. This is something that we've actually been working on. I can get both dogs to back up with me, but staying in position without a physical barrier on the other side of me has been difficult. I finally started playing around more with cues and how I position my body and found a combination that seems to work well for us. I am happy to say that Bess backed straight up with me! It has become more of a game for her and she tends to scoot backwards much faster than I walk, so she ends up a bit further behind me, but still within the rally heel position zone. There were two stations that we had to redo thanks to handler error, but otherwise a decent run. We ended with a qualifying score of 85. Next up was Rally Advanced. Bess was in the B class and Heffner in the A class. I remember having to redo one station with Bess, though I can't remember which one. I know that it was again handler error (the dogs seriously need one of those t-shirts asking for a handler exchange program!). Overall, it wasn't bad. She ended with a qualifying score of 88, earning her fifth RAE leg!! Following Bess was the Heffmeister. With regards to my goals for Heff, I was pleased with his performance. He was a bit stressed, but handled it well and I had an adorable happy dog for parts of the course. Bit by bit we're getting there! Thankfully the station that I screwed him up the most on was the last one. Even though I'd walked two courses that had that exact station in them, including running them correctly with Bess, I completely glossed over the initial halt before calling the dog to front. I just called him right to front and then couldn't remember if I had halted him or not. Since I couldn't remember, I decided to redo the station regardless. Good thing I did, because when I asked the judge afterwards, I had in fact started to do the station incorrectly! Unfortunately, redoing the station deflated Heffner. His initial halt was painfully slow, but we got through it. He got a qualifying score of 80 for his third RA leg and his RA title!! Naturally I got a picture.:0)

Saturday was just conformation with Bess. While she won her class, she didn't do anything beyond that. She also didn't quite have the zest that I've gotten used to seeing with her in the conformation ring. I think that I didn't do as good of a job getting her happy before entering the ring. I took a chance by entering her under this judge. We've shown under him twice before and haven't done anything, but it was usually with a much larger entry and therefore kind of hard to base an opinion on. After I packed our stuff up, I went to say hi to Kennedy and Vegas who were at the same fairgrounds, but competing in agility in another building. I made it just in time to watch them run a fast and lovely Excellent Standard run.

Today was another day of conformation under a judge that we've never shown to before. Our ring location was in a different building than on Saturday and on packed dirt. The ring was also quite large. Sweet! I fully intended to use the ring and show off Bess' movement. I played some little games with her and got her showing off some of her favorite tricks. She was quite pleased with herself and genuinely happy to be there. Excellent! Once we got into the ring, I worked it and she won her class. Then we went in for Winners Bitch and I knew that I was going to have to work it really hard here. The judge moved each dog a fair bit and I did my best to make sure that I showed Bess off. In the final line up she was stacking well and giving me great expression and great ears. And then the judge pointed to us for Winners Bitch!!! When we went back in for breed, we ended up with Best of Winners and Best of Opposite Sex!!!! The entry was small and the point break down was only one point for dogs and one point for bitches, so no cross over points, but still. We got a freaking point! That puts Bess at 9 points including one major. The judge was also complimentary of her when we got our picture, praising her soundness and ability to move.:0) Yes, this judge gets highlighted on our spreadsheet!

In other less exciting news, I managed to bag up an entire three month supply of meat for the dogs in one day! That's a new record for me! After we got home from the dog show and I vegged out a bit, I just got down to it and didn't stop until it was done. It feels really good to have that out of the way for another three months! I hope everyone else has had a fabulous weekend!