Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Blogger Tuesday

My pick for Blog of the Week is Agile IWS!! This is a blog about a woman who shows and competes with Irish Water Spaniels. Two of her IWS have garnered the coveted MACH title for agility. Not only that, but they are both finished conformation champions! That is a fete that I can definitely appreciate given the pressures that can build in the conformation ring to finish an animal and the time that it potentially can take away from training and competing. And just to stir things up a bit, she recently added a border collie puppy to the mix! So head on over and check out the blog!

I have just a little Ruthie update. Things are going along splendidly with her! She's such a happy little girl to have around. Who knew that I would enjoy having a small dog so much?! We're slowly starting to work on a variety of basic behaviors and she's catching on. Naturally I'm videoing most of it. I'm also going to try and take little random videos of her. She has the cutest vertical jump when she's super happy that I have GOT to get on a cue! I LOVE it! I did a little training of the dogs last night with all three in the same room. Ruthie was in her carrier just in case Heffner decided to get snarky. I didn't think he would when he was in training mode, and he didn't. He's slowly warming up to her, but I'm not entirely sure that he realizes she's a dog. I did remove both Heffner and Bess when I took Ruthie out to train. Since I don't have as much of a connection built up with her, I wanted to remove as many extraneous distractions as possible. I also started switching her over to raw last night. So far so good! Granted, we are only on ground turkey right now and the big test is switching over to whole chunks of meet and adding in some bone. I picked up some chicken feet yesterday and I meant to give her one in her crate this morning when I left for work, but I totally forgot. I'm going to try tomorrow. She also slept through the entire night last night and made it all the way until 5:30am this morning!! Woot! Hopefully I'm not jinxing myself by saying this, but we haven't had a single accident inside the house since the very first time she was put in her crate on Saturday. Double woot!!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Weekend Wrap Up

I didn't get around to posting yesterday, so today I'll finish filling in for the weekend. Firstly, here are the course maps from Saturday:

Saturday with Ruthie went really well. We had a couple of friends over to meet her and Ruthie was eating it up. We did a gentle introduction of her to the danes individually through the small chain link portion of our fence. Heffner was first and was mostly okay with her. Not entirely thrilled about her, but with the option of earning a yummy cookie or barking at the little dog, he usually chose the cookie. Bess didn't care at all. We actually let them both out in the back yard together and neither one was bothered by the other. Two thumbs up!

The first time that we put Ruthie in her crate, she was a little pissed. We kept the danes gated up stairs. For the first bit, every time Heffner heard her make a noise from her crate (and frenchies can make some seriously bizarre noises!) he would sound off. I'm pretty sure he though there was a demon down in that crate. I brought up some treats and we started treating him every time she made a noise and he didn't respond to it. After a bit he was able to lie down and mostly relax. By the next day he could walk past her in her crate squawking and not react. Slow progress, but progress.

As for Sunday, I had a nice late ring time with Bess, so I got to hang about the house for a bit and got Adam set up to start primin the clicker for Ruthie. We used Cheerios because Jill had mentioned using them with one of her frenchies when she first got him. They're really a great treat. No excess sugars or what not. Low in calories. And the perfect size for a small dog. Needless to say, she likes the clicker.;0)

As for conformation, Bess got second out of three. Her half sister Mia won the class again and went on to win Winners Bitch and now only needs one point to finish. Yes, it would be really nice to be in that position.

After I got home and did some relaxing, I was able to catch a cute picture of Adam and Ruthie taking a little nap on our ghetto porch couch! :0)
I took the danes out for a little hike so that they could stretch their legs and Adam could hang out in the house with Ruthie and let her explore the rest of it.

This morning I got up a little earlier than normal. Ruthie hasn't figured out our routine as of yet and likes to wake up a little earlier than I do. I packed all three dogs up and we headed out to a local field to do some obedience work with the intent to ramp up the excitement for the work and the individual exercises by using toys. Heffner was HIGH! It took me a while to find a toy that Bess would actually do much of anything with. I finally got some response from a rabbit fur tug/treat pouch. Otherwise, toys she isn't much interested in. Ruthie had a blast doing some lovely off leash heeling all over the place and never left my side.

Then later today we had an obedience lesson and I brought Ruthie along mostly because I didn't want to leave her all alone at the house. I ended up working her a bit towards the end and even though we haven't done very much in the three whole days that we've had her, she did really well! She's doing a nice tuck sit. And she had some beautiful fronts where she came in nice and straight and went right into a sit!! I've totally got an obedience frenchie in the making!! I told Jill that I need to enter her in an obedience trial right now before she gets independent and getting her attention actually takes work.

And that brings us up to now. Aside from having to go into the dentist's to get a cavity filled, it's been a pretty nice day!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Clackamas Kennel Club Day 1

There's a little sneak peak at Ruthie courtesy of Danielle!! I love this picture!

Oh my goodness what a day it has been! As I mentioned yesterday, I had Bess entered in rally and conformation today. Excellent was starting first thing in the morning, and I like to get to try to get to the show grounds early so that I can get set up, get the dog(s) to potty, and just generally have time to get settled. All of that means that I generally get to grounds roughly an hour before ring time. So we started our day relatively early.

I will post course maps tomorrow. At the moment the maps are sitting on top of the crate that has a little frenchie girl who just went to sleep and I don't want to disturb her by going and getting them.;0) The courses were nice and I am especially appreciative of the judge's conscientiousness in where she put the honor station. Now that Heffner is at that level, I'm a lot more conscious of where the honor station is and hoping for enough space that he doesn't feel uncomfortable. But back to the course itself. It was a nice course, and it would have been REALLY nice to actually finish it......

I really should have seen this coming and I was actually a little afraid of what our performance was going to be like today after the match on Thursday night. I was optimistic that even though our Novice run didn't go that well, hopefully she had some positive associations with those rings from getting to "play" a bit in them. That was NOT the case. Setting her up at the start was painful. When I finally got her to sit and we got the go ahead from the judge, I started to heel. And Bess eventually started as well. And then once we halted at the first station (which was a 90 degree left pivot), she stopped in a stand and wouldn't move. Period. Wouldn't sit. Wouldn't budge. Even with me hopping, clapping, and squeaking at her to get attention. That actually garnered her turning her head away from me. Awesome. After what felt like forever of trying to get something from her, I just finally asked to be excused. Blarg. First time that's happened with her. And it totally sucked. I scratched her from her Advanced class as well. I wasn't about to go back into the ring and potentially cement that behavior. And we had such a lovely warm up!!

Once I scratched her, our morning was suddenly open. I noticed the french bulldogs starting to show up, but I didn't know what Ruthie's owner looked like, so I waited for Jill and Danielle to get there and asked them to show me who she was. Then I got to meet Ruthie!!

She was so happy and bouncy when she got out of her crate! And she let me squish her!! She's totally squishable! I was able to hang out around the frenchie ring for a bit getting instructions on Ruthie, watching the start of the classes, and just chatting. Then it was time to go get Bess and Ruthie set up outside the dane ring. The carrier that I brought for Ruthie was just a smidge tight. She had room in there, but not as much as I would have liked. Bess and Ruthie got to meet through the soft crate. Neither one was terribly concerned about the other, but I wasn't about to test anything out when I was the only one holding both leashes!

After a little bit of waiting it was ring time for Bess. Where she got third out of three. Damn! Double strike for the day! Oh well, tomorrows another day.

Meanwhile, we've got a new toy!

Bess got to meet Ruthie at the show grounds as we were walking to the truck with everything at the end of the day. My friend Nicole helped me haul dogs and assorted show crap. Heffner has seen her through the window and through the screen door, but he hasn't gotten to meet her as of yet. Since he can be more likely to guard his mommy, we'll do some slow introductions through a fence where both dogs are getting lots of treats and I've got Adam helping me so that both dogs can feel safe and comfortable meeting each other.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Ready For the Weekend!!

I am so ready for this weekend!! Exciting change of scenery that is about to go down here tomorrow and I will be sure to post many pictures!:0)

I've got Bess entered in Rally Excellent and Advanced just tomorrow. Hopefully we will earn RAE leg #6. And I think that roughly about the time we're finished up in the rally ring, we'll head on over to the frenchie ring to pick up Ruthie!!! And watch the frenchies in the ring as well.:0) About an hour after the frenchies go in, the danes go in. There's a decent sized entry in bitches, so we'll see what happens. I'll hope for the best.

I did get out with the dogs today and worked them with toys and trying to use me as reinforcement as well. Heffner thinks this is FANTASTIC!! I had temporarily forgotten how frackin' high he gets when I've got a toy. And he doesn't tire. He may be panting pretty heavily, but the sight of that toy tucked under my arm keeps him going. I was also really happy with how happy he stayed after I put the toy away. We did some recall and finish games where he got to chase me and he thought that was great too.

I also realized that working the dogs like this is going to require a change of scenery. I think I'm going to have to start taking them to some tennis courts to do this kind of work. I need a lot of room for Heffner especially and I would prefer something enclosed so that I can work them off leash. I also came to realize that working them like this is not always going to be an option in the morning. It requires that I be very alert and awake in order to avoid the jumping bean that is Heffner. It seriously took him about 15 min. to settle down enough that he wasn't trying to climb all over me. You can't avoid those paws when you're running at half mast.

Bess is going to make me work my ass off. She's not a huge play drive dog. She really wasn't interested in any of the variety of toys that I brought out. I've got a couple more to try on her, but at the moment I'm not terribly positive that I've got what it'll take. Somehow I've gotta find that toy that makes her go ga-ga. Her training session was okay. We worked on a couple of the rally stations that I realized we haven't gone over or seen on a course in quite some time. It's usually about that time that I get bit in the butt for not practicing it. So I think we're ready there. The rest is just going to have to be a work in progress. Right now I don't have a terribly happy working dog unless I've got yummy delicious food.

With us luck tomorrow!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

No Food Is Work!

This afternoon I headed down to Canby for an obedience match that our obedience club was hosting. It was a limited entry, the weather was excellent, and I got to learn the real reason that Bess falls apart in the obedience ring. I've been following the Exercise Finished blog and have been particularly interested in the difficulties she's had with Phoenix in the ring. He loses attention when he realizes there are no cookies in the competition ring. That's pretty much Bess in both the rally and obedience ring with a bit of stress thrown in to really give it that tortured dog flair! And of course the book that I mentioned yesterday talks about needing to have more reinforcers than just food. I don't know if I'm just more receptive now to the need to train without food rewards all the time or what, but it seems like this topic is coming up a lot in a variety of places more recently.

So like I said, I headed down to Canby for an obedience match with Bess. The location of the match is in the exact rings where the obedience and rally trials are being held starting tomorrow (I have Bess entered in rally on Saturday). Pretty good deal! The only catch is that you can't use food in the rings, period. Which is actually potentially a good thing because you get to play around with your dog and let them know how much fun obedience is in the exact rings that they'll be competing in. I had a feeling that I was going to go into the ring with a rather flat dog judging by how our warm up was going. When I had treats, she was animated and happy. When I tried a variety of toys that I brought, I got a flat dog who preferred to ignore me. Crap!

It's not like I wasn't aware of this problem. Our runs in rally have slowly been unravelling and while we've continued to qualify, it hasn't been pretty. Occasionally I manage to get enough excitement out of her in chunks that are promising, but on the whole, our obedience runs overall are unravelling similarly to how our agility runs were unravelling, just in a different direction. With my focus so much on fixing the agility break down that we had, I kind of chose not to focus on fixing the obedience problem that has been slowly building. And that has to stop if I actually want Bess to be competitive. I need her to WANT to work with me. I need her to feel that being in the ring with me is part of the fun and the reward.

I had the opportunity to watch many other very good handlers working their dogs in the ring without treats and saw some very happy dogs out there. That is what I would like from Bess and it's not going to be easy. She's not super into toys. She's really only into tugging when she feels like it. And she's not as into playing with just me as Heffner is. So I've gotta fix that.

I was able to mess around with her a fair amount in the ring and when she started to drift or not do what was expected, I redid it with more "flair." It was a lot of work and I still didn't have the dog that I get when she knows I've got yummy delicious treats waiting for her.

My goal for the summer is to cut back on the training treats by about 90% and really ramp up the play with both dogs. I need the exercises and our time together to be super rewarding so that both dogs are happy workers! I started by buying a little variety of toys tonight to try with them and we'll see how this goes. I'm going to start tomorrow morning. So if you see a woman acting utterly ridiculous with a great dane at 6:00am in front of some grade school? Yeah, that's probably me.....

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Books of the Month

My first pick for Book of the Month for June is "Building Blocks for Performance" by Bobbie Anderson. This actually is a book that my obedience instructor let me borrow. We talk off and on about puppies and my goal for the next puppy that we get and how to basically go about that from day one. She recommended that I read this book to help me get a clearer picture in my mind of what I'll want to do.

I will definitely be getting my own copy of the book. It's full of great ideas on how to make learning fun for the dog and how to make yourself the center of all things good. These are things that may sound incredibly easy, but until you actually start training for it, you don't realize how much effort goes into them. By starting out on the right foot and getting your dog to think that the obedience exercises (obedience is the primary example, but the author does give reference to how these exercises can carry over into other dog sports) are positively reinforcing and getting to do them with you is the best thing in the world. Who doesn't want a competition dog who steps into the ring and has not only that extra happy sparkle, but chooses to focus on nothing else besides you???

I thought that all the games and methods of teaching behaviors were all very clear and seemed easy to implement. I say seemed because I don't have a puppy that I'm currently trying this out with. Though I have implemented some of the play in with my dogs in the hopes that I can build the exercises up enough that I get less stressed dogs in the ring. It's a great reference book to have around to remind you of how to approach things and what you can do to amp up your training. It's also just a plain enjoyable book to read! I recommend it for anyone planning on getting a performance prospect that they want to start out right from the start.

My great dane related pick for Book of the Month for June is "The Great Dane" by Frederick Becker. This is definitely one of those books that's more interesting points are how very different things are viewed now as opposed to how they were viewed in the early 1900's. It's really more of an entertaining book than a reference manual.

There are statements at the very beginning of the book remarking that due to the often vicious nature of the breed, it's important to instill obedience in each dog. Okay, that's understandable and can be said for a lot of breeds. However, the method of "education" apparently involved a wip. No further detail was given, just that it was a method to educate great danes on how to respect and obey their masters. Yikes!

Even the standard in the early 1900's in England included a statement warning against a "vicious" nature. "He is easily controlled when well trained, but he may grow savage if confined too much, kept on chain or ill treated." Yes, that statement was in the breed standard!

There are a few illustrations in the book that are meant to help explain points of conformation, but unfortunately they fall a bit flat of that. There are two head studies that are supposed to be depicting an incorrect head and a correct head. The only difference that I can really see between the two heads are where the lines are drawn on them. Otherwise they look totally alike!

And finally, it's very entertaining to hear the author's philosophy on the physical and character differences between the colors. Especially around the conformation ring you will hear many breeders and exhibitors talk about this or that characteristic that's attributable to which ever color. For instance, harl people are crazy. Er, I mean, harlequins are rambunctious and vocal on average compared to the other colors.:0) In the book, the author noted that blues were on average throatier than the other colors; having an excessive amount of neck skin. I would chalk that up to individual variance or maybe a characteristic of a line more so than a color, but there are a lot of assumptions similar to this that are included.

All-in-all it was an entertaining read. I don't see it as a book that a great dane person couldn't live without.

Monday, June 20, 2011

YouTube of the Month

As the weather warms up, our thoughts turn to pondering how to stay cool and still get the dogs exercised. Why not train them for water rescue?? Or better yet, why not train them for water rescue involving jumping out a helicopter??

All joking aside, water rescue is obviously a serious endeavor and takes many years of training for a dog to be eligible and considered safe for the task. This doesn't mean that their training methods don't make for a good way to exercise your dog while still keeping them cool.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Puppy Visits

This weekend is a relatively quiet one where I get to spend my time visiting with other people's puppies. Seriously, I am that lucky.:) Today I headed south to Silverton to visit with my parents and finally meet their golden retriever puppy, Jazz. They brought him home the weekend I was in Lodi with the dogs. With everything else that's been going on, I just haven't made it down to visit with them and little Jazz. Now that he's already 12 weeks old, I figured that I really better get on that before he's completely grown up.

I took Bess down with me to meet him. I decided to leave Heffner at home for a few different reasons. 1) Heffner does better meeting new dogs when he's by himself. 2) Heffner isn't terribly fond of male dogs beyond the age of six months unless they have a certain temperament and he gets to see them on a regular basis. 3) Since I haven't met Jazz before, I wasn't entirely sure if he was the type of puppy that Heffner would very rapidly lose patience with. Thankfully I don't think Jazz is. However, I'm not entirely sure that Heffner will learn to tolerate him.

Jazz has not met a lot of dogs who are bigger than he is (the neighbors have basenjis and dachshunds) and was rather taken aback when Bess came into the house. For about the first two hours that we were there, he kept his distance from Bess. He was very curious about her, but at the same time, he was a little scared of her. Bess pretty much ignored him and went about stealing his toys that were scattered throughout the house. Initially my dad was the only one home, so we took the dogs outside to potty and maybe Jazz would get a little more comfortable with Bess in a larger space.

After much trailing of Bess and keeping an eye on her every move, we headed inside. Jazz was still skittish around Bess, though he obviously really wanted to play with her. I got out some cheese and started doing some simple sit and down training with Jazz right next to Bess in a down stay. He was much more comfortable around her when she was lying down. He knows sit very well because my parents have him sit for a lot of different things. Teaching him down was a little trickier because his little bum kept wanting to pop up into the air, but he caught on quite fast. I used just basic food luring to get him into position. Then I had him go from a down into a sit, which took a few tries before he figured that out. In the mean time, he was learning that Bess wasn't so scary and he was more than happy to work for cheese right next to her.

It was becoming very readily apparent that little Jazz was getting very tired after all the excitement of having visitors that he wanted to keep an eye on. I started finding this down by my feet:
And generally, there was a lot more of this:
After a brief nap, Jazz got braver and was going up to Bess, who had stolen his nice comfy bed.
Finally Jazz plopped down and got a playful paw tap from Bess.
In short, he is a very sweet, very biddable, soft, fluffy, adorable little puppy. The cuteness factor is way up there!

And in case you're wondering the toe nail nazi was in effect and I trimmed his nails while I was there. My mom got a chastising for letting them get long.;0)

Tomorrow I am off to play with an adorable little black dane puppy from the litter of Stacie's that I got to go visit a few weekends back!!

Friday, June 17, 2011


I'm just going to cut to the chase since I already spilled the beans on Facebook today. Adam and I are getting a french bulldog!!! Yay!!! We pick her up next Saturday! Next week is going to go by veeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrryyyyy slowly.

I'm sure you're thinking that this is a little out of left field since I've had great dane puppy fever for quite a while now. Adam and I have actually been going back and forth on the subject of getting a french bulldog for a few months now. Technically he gave me his seal of approval to get one a while back. The catch, and the reason why I didn't say anything about it on the blog, is that he wanted to keep us as a strictly three dog maximum household. I wasn't willing to give up that final spot to a non-dane, so the discussion kind of ended there. But during that time I had mentioned to my obedience instructor that we were getting interested in a frenchie. She and her partner have two and I just LOVE them!! We would talk a little about it during lessons and at matches. When it finally came down to Adam holding fast on the idea of only three dogs, I had to let go of the idea of getting a frenchie.

Things have changed. Our time frame for getting a third dane has been extended a bit, which has opened the door for the potential of a frenchie. I brought up the topic with Adam last weekend. He mulled it over and I got the thumbs up to start looking. We were open to pretty much anything, though we were leaning more towards an older dog. Once I got the thumbs up from Adam, I immediately emailed my obedience instructor and told her that we were officially looking and if she heard anything, to let me know. Within 24 hours, I think, I got an email back from her saying that she found us our frenchie!! For this and many other reasons, I freaking love Jill!!

Adam wasn't thinking that we would find something so fast, but after a bit of mulling over again, I got the official thumbs up to go for it! So next Saturday we will be bringing home our very own frenchie!!!

Her name is Ruthie and she's a 4 year old finished AKC champion. And she's a fawn. Regardless of size, Heffner is slowly turning out to be like his name sake and surrounding himself with blond bitches.;0) Adam and I are both very excited to have her become part of our family.

And wouldn't you know it, but the French Bulldog Club of America just happens to be having their 2012 national specialty in our area next year (also got that little tid bit of information from Jill!). I'm planning on talking to Ruthie's breeder to see if she's okay with her staying intact until after the national specialty so that I can show her in the breed ring there. And we just might have to do some performance events as well.;0)

I will admit that Ruthie will "technically" be our non-competition dog. Part of the fabulousness of having a breed who was created with the intention of being a lap dog is that she can stay at home with Adam and keep him company while I'm out with the danes doing whatever. That's kind of the plan. I still plan on working with her and I think it would be fun to see what she thinks of some of the performance sports. So we'll see just exactly where this goes.

In the mean time, I've got some shopping to do! We have basically nothing that is small dog friendly. We do have a wire crate that should work, though it'll be a little on the big side. Otherwise, I need to buy dishes, bedding, collars (SWEET!!), and whatever other stuff I can think of. And since we're doing some camping this summer, I'll definitely need to find her a life vest. And probably a coat to keep her warm in case the nights get too cold. And a dog bed for in the office at home. It's a shame that we're getting into summer right now. That makes it a lot harder to justify buying dog clothes.;0)

I do believe that the title of the blog is going to have to change. I'm thinking something along the lines of Life With Big Dogs and a Midget. What do you think???? Oh yeah, and pictures will follow once we have her. You'll just have to wait until then.:0)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Video Rap Up

I have NOT been able to shake the tired all day today! It's been rough! I even resorted to various "hits" of caffeine throughout the day and that barely did anything for me. It's incredibly tempting to call in to work tired, if I could do that.

Today is a video heavy post. I'm going to share the videos of Heffner's runs yesterday from the trial and the remaining lure coursing runs. Here goes. First is Heff's Open JWW run:

I don't actually see the bar go down in this video, but I remember seeing it go down as we were running the course.

Next was Excellent Standard:

And Heffner's second lure coursing run:

Bess' second lure coursing run:

Bess' third lure coursing run:

And the nice little video of Bess watching the whippets that she wishes were her lures to chase!

Okay, so now I think I'm officially caught up with everything! Thank you SOOOOOOOOOO much Kennedy for taking all the videos and for being such a great support for us!!:0)

Somehow tonight I need to muster up enough energy to take the dogs for a run. Heffner could get by without it, but would be crazy by tomorrow. Bess literally doesn't know what to do with herself. She's like this creepy little dog following me every where and just staring at me. You know what it's like to feel this presence behind you only to turn around and it's Bess, just staring. Little creepy!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

AKC Agility Trial Day 2

First I'll start by posting the videos of yesterday's runs. First up was Excellent Standard.

Then came Open Jumpers With Weaves. As it turns out, there were no dropped bars on the course. Which means that I did in fact throw away that run yesterday. ARG!!! Here's the run:

Today was a little warmer, but not quite as warm as predicted earlier in the week. I parked in my usual spot, away from the majority of the activity and in an area that gets mostly shaded starting around late morning. I brought some sun shades along today and got the truck decked out so that Heffner would have extra protection. They were running small to tall today and starting with FAST, so we had a nice slow morning. Because I wanted to get that specific parking spot, we still showed up early. I took advantage of the early slow start to our day and took Heffner out for a nice long walk. After we got back to the truck and I got him settled in and picked up our number and course maps, I settled in for a nice little nap in the truck.:0)

The courses were nice again today. JWW had one section that was going to be potentially awkward depending on how it went, but I was prepared to be fully mentally there today and care about our run. And wouldn't you know it, JWW was up first!

Jumps 4, 5, and 6 were what I was a little worried about. When I walked it, I walked it a few different ways trying to figure out which way would flow the best and which way would I be least likely to cause Heffner to falter. The three jumps were rather like a serpentine, but spaced further apart than any serpentines that we've practiced on, which made it difficult for me to figure out how to get where I needed to be and stay ahead of Heffner. I was also planning on leading out to jump three. Just in case Heffner broke his start line stay, I also walked a different start so that I wouldn't be totally thrown off.

I accomplished my goal of being fully invested in the course. Heffner held his start line stay and the route that I planned didn't go off quite as awkwardly as I thought it might (giving us something to practice!). Overall the run was great! Unfortunately we had a knocked bar on jump 15. Damn! So close! Otherwise it was a great run!
Next up was Excellent Standard. It was another nice course and I was looking forward to running it. Our runs weren't as close together today as they were yesterday, but still within an hour of each other. After JWW I hosed him down entirely and let him hang out in the truck while I walked the course. He seemed in pretty good spirits while we were waiting to run, but once we got out there, you could tell that he was getting tired and hot. He was REALLY slow in the tunnels, but I can't fault him for that. Anyone who thinks that tunnels aren't a big deal needs to run a dog that is not only tall, but just as long as they are tall. It's hard on them, period. Whether they enjoy it or not, it's physically hard. I think those tunnels just really took it out of him. He didn't even really pick up speed through the weaves like he normally does. He ended up dropping two bars, but otherwise I am happy with the effort that he put into the run and the fact that he stayed with me even though he was ready to be done!

Sadly no Q's today, but we had some good runs regardless. And now Heffner is taking a break from agility for the summer and he'll pick back up with things in the fall when it's cooler.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

AKC Agility Trial Day 1

In an effort to stay on top of things this weekend, I am making some time to update on the agility trial that Heffner and I attended today! In a nutshell, we had two NQs unfortunately, but a Standard run that was otherwise fantastic and I was really pleased with! First up was my favorite, Excellent Standard.

Both judges today put together lovely courses that were very enjoyable to run. Our Standard run started off so well! Heffner was nailing his weaves and once he was finished I was so caught up in telling him what a good boy he was that I forgot about the location of the table that was our next obstacle. I almost back right up into it! I swerved at the last second, pinwheeling my arms a bit, causing Heffner to jump onto the table, and then right off. Damn! Freaking clumsy handler! He did knock a bar towards the end, so the run wasn't entirely otherwise clean, but at that point I was out there running with him and just having fun and going for a little bit of speed on the course. Even though we had an NQ, I REALLY had fun out there with him and he seemed to really enjoy himself! Next up was Open Jumpers With Weaves.
This was another nice course. I was debating on whether or not I should hose Heffner down before our run. Our Standard and JWW runs were pretty close together. I thought that just hanging out and being calm by the ring entrance would hopefully be enough to cool him off a bit. I don't think that it was. He was a bit pokier on on the jump sequences and ended up going around jumps 5 and 6. That's something that he usually only does when he's hot. While the temperatures were only some where in the high 60's, he's sensitive enough and didn't get much of a break in between runs that I think it affected him. Instead of turning him around to go over the first jump that he bypassed, I just continued on in order to not kill his momentum. I can't remember if we knocked a bar or not, I kind of think we did. If we didn't, the run was probably salvageable if I had just turned him around and taken him back over the jump.

And this is where we come upon my current problem. I, as a handler, need to care about our jumpers runs. I've gotten into the habit more recently of not really caring about our jumpers runs. I really enjoy standard courses. For some reason I have a hang up on jumpers. I find myself thinking "oh well" or "I don't really care" before we go in for our runs. This is NOT a good mind set to go in the ring with. It's very self defeating. If I'm paying to run my dog in the event, then I need to make the effort to mentally be into the game and support my dog. Otherwise there's really no point in me entering that class at all. I think that my original hang ups came from my ability to easily botch our runs due to crappy crosses. Why did we have crappy front and rear crosses? Oh yeah, because I didn't practice them. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh! So now that I've actually put the time in and my dogs for the most part understand what I'm asking of them (I'm not going to go so far as to say that I don't still screw things up) I shouldn't have any reason to dread the jumpers courses and the inevitable crosses that are necessary to complete the course. We are to a point now where a cross does not mean that we're going to get the dropped bar that is the kiss of death in AKC jumpers courses. We can do this! I just need to change my mind set and be totally engaged in the run. So that's my goal for tomorrow!

I hope that everyone's weekend is off to a great start! And here's to hoping that tomorrow I won't get stuck on damn I-5 bridge when it's up both coming and going from the trial!!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Lure Coursing!

On Wednesday evening, Kennedy and I headed down to Corvallis with our respective dogs to try out a little lure coursing at a practice hosted by the kennel club members down there. As of this year the AKC introduced a Coursing Ability Test that allows any AKC registered dog to enter and obtain these specific titles. I'm not going to pretend to know a lot about lure coursing because I don't. I have some friends with sight hounds who thoroughly enjoy it and it has sounded like a lot of fun. I've held back on trying it out with the dogs because I had some initial reservations. Bess has a REALLY high prey drive. I've mentioned previously that she has caught and killed some wild animals out on hikes. I wasn't entirely sure that it was a good idea to practice something with her that would essentially help to hone those skills. But since I'm game for trying new things with the dogs and this seemed like something that Bess could really let loose and enjoy, I decided to give it a try.

After showing up at Kennedy's house almost a half hour late (it is NEVER a good idea to generalize how long it takes to get anywhere with rush hour Beaverton traffic!), we headed down to Corvallis. We arrived at the practice sight, helped set up, and it was recommended that we take the dogs out and let them watch some of the more experienced dogs run so that they got an idea of what they were supposed to do. I took Heffner out first. He was alert while watching the other dogs run, but otherwise wasn't overly stimulated. I really wasn't sure how he was going to take to this. He does like to chase things, can be called off them, and doesn't have as much pretty drive as Bess. Either way, I thought that he probably would enjoy it in his own way. The boy actually did pretty well!:) I started him out on the "greyhound lure," which is a sort of fake raccoon thing that makes interesting noises and has a tail. Very fun to chase! It was hard to tell from where I was positioned behind him how he took to it, but Kennedy was videoing, and he looked like he enjoyed himself!:)

Next up was Bess. I walked her around and let her stand near where they were running the lure so that she could watch the other dogs run. I was NOT prepared for her reaction on seeing those whippets chase the lure! She went a little nuts! She wanted to GET those crazy dogs and whatever they were chasing! Because I was totally unprepared for how strong of a reaction she had, it was either get pulled forward through the air or plant myself on my butt and hold on for dear life! Hence the picture at the top of the post.;0) After the first dog, I was more prepared. Bess was sooooo amped up! Every muscle was tensed and she was quivering at times with tension. I have NEVER seen her like this! She even whimpered a few times. It was crazy!
Because she was showing such a strong reaction, I decided not to run her with the greyhound lure the first time. While she did chase the plastic bag, towards the end she wasn't really sure what to do and veered off.

For her second run, she got the greyhound lure and had better follow through at the end. On Heffner's second run, I ran him with just the plastic bag and he did pretty well on just that. I was pretty impressed with him. I wasn't expecting as much interest as I got! There are additional videos of those runs, but Kennedy has been more than swamped and a bit over worked, so I'm happy that she was able to put together what she did. Thanks Kennedy! I'll post the other videos once they are done.

Overall it was a really fun experience! The people were all really nice and it was fun to try something totally different than anything else we've done. I would like to eventually enter both dogs in a coursing ability test, but I'll need to find one that doesn't already conflict with other activities that we've already got scheduled. And Heffner will definitely be waiting for cooler weather before he does any of that.

The dogs will have to run a 600 yard course. Ideally, if I'm actually going to go through with this, I would like to do some specific conditioning for this. We have a few football fields and soccer fields near our house that would be ideal for some longer distance sprint work. I'm just going to have to convince Adam to help me out with it. So we'll see how that goes.

In the mean time, I'm signing off so that I can jet off to bed and get some rest before heading off to an AKC trial with Heffner in the morning. I'm hoping for an enjoyable weekend of agility with him, regardless of the technical outcome.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Blogger Tuesday

My pick for Blog of the Week is a blog that many agility enthusiasts are already well aware of, but it still bears repeating. Therefore I have picked Agility Nerd! You want course maps? Check. A plethora of videos? Check. Short sequences and tips on how to improve your handling skills? Check! So head on over and check it out!!

My Tuesday night schedule starting tonight and lasting through the summer is now changing and I'm not entirely sure what I want to do with my evenings. Now that the temperatures are going up, heading out to the agility barn for practice isn't as ideal. It's hard to focus on actually accomplishing anything when I get hot and sticky like the dogs do and don't feel like moving myself. Add to that the dust in the air that accumulates from running around, and barn time becomes not terribly productive. So we're taking the summer off and we'll just tinker around in the back yard. But now the "dilemma" of what to do with that evening. I think I might start heading out to the lake with the dogs so that Heffner can get some swimming in and hopefully this will be the summer that Bess starts swimming. We'll see!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Grab The Pole Part 2

This trick is a continuation of the Grab The Pole Part 1 trick that I posted last week. For the second part of the trick, you're doing a more "practical" application of the trick by having the dog hold a toy or other object. Here's our attempt:

I tried a few different items to see what would work best for the dogs to hold, but I couldn't find anything that really fit the bill. The behavior that I had built up with the pole also started to break down when I added in the random objects. It also became almost impossible to use the clicker, hold the object, and give the treat all at the same time. So I stopped using the clicker.

After a few different attempt with a few different objects I had the grand idea to take the trick outside. I had the dogs grabbing the support beam on our back patio area. They caught on pretty quick and had some pretty cute grabs. All I need now is some sexy stripper music and some nipple tassels and these dogs will finally start making me some money!!LOL

I do have to admit that I toyed with the idea of continuing to work on the trick and try to get them to do some sort of "dance" routine around the support beam (Bess started throwing in some cute paw moves), but it's a slippery slope once you start down that path.;0)

I was able to take the afternoon off from work today and I freaking loved it!! I seriously wish I could do that every single day, still get paid the same (or more!!), and not have ANY work get back logged and be waiting for me in the morning. Now THAT'S my kind of job!;0)

I wasn't entirely lazy once I got home. I loaded up the dogs and we went out to our obedience instructor's building for a lesson. We had a really good lesson! Heffner had some of the most fabulous heeling! I'm talking multiple minutes of fabulous attention, lovely movement, and super fabulous figure eights with distractions. It was awesome! We played a little bit with his dumbbell and he was happy doing some play retrieves on the flat and had LOTS of fun going over the jump with it. And he didn't drop it once! I still need to write a little post about what I'm doing with each dog for their dumbbells and I promise to eventually get to that!

Bess' heeling was a little less than what I was expecting. It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't super either. She does work fabulously with distractions though! The figure eight distractions she didn't even glance at. While we were doing recalls, our instructor actually laid down on the ground in between Bess and I. I had to give a second command to get Bess to move from her sit, but she veered nicely around Jill, didn't even sniff her, and came right to me.:0) She also got to practice her stays with the malinois having a lesson after us. Those were spot on! She played her dumbbell as well and for the first time she went over the jump at almost full height and kept it in her mouth the whole time! I do have to admit that she's a lot happier working the dumbbell in our lessons than she is at home.

I hope everyone's Monday was terribly painful!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Riddle Me This

Bess increased her kill count tonight on our little hike by one rabbit. That brings her to a grand total of two rabbits and one duck. On the up side, this time around she killed it quickly and I didn't have to hear that awful screaming. Just a little bit of squeaking and then nothing. Bess was really pissed when I pulled it out of her mouth finally and wouldn't let her eat it. I'm a little paranoid about parasites and who knows what else wild critters might carry. The elk that my dad gave me for the dogs had already been through a butchers and then sat in the freezer for four weeks before I let the dogs have any. So I'm a little leery about letting her provide for herself when we're out and about.

What befuddles me is the fact that when I've given her store bought rabbit previously, she flat out turned her nose up at it. Acted like it was the most vile thing that I had put in her dish and couldn't believe that I expected her to eat it. Tonight though, she was all about trying to wolf that thing down! Aside from the obvious fact that I don't feed my dogs enough, WTF? Crazy bitches!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Hooray for Saturdays!

(Pictures courtesy of the JAG group) It has been a lovely Saturday for us so far. Bess and I started the morning off by heading out to an agility match hosted by the Columbia Agility Team. The course went a little something like this:
Bess had another fantastic morning with a perfectly clean run!! I'm so proud of her! I only did one run with her because our obedience club had a meeting at noon and sometimes these matches can stretch on for a while when you're doing two runs. That and I didn't bring a crate or any sort of shade cloth and the day was predicted to get into the low 80's. I didn't want Bess to get too warm (Heffner stayed home because he starts to melt above 70), so we did our one great run and then went home.
After the match I got to hang out at home with the pooches for a little bit and then head into Sherwood for our obedience club meeting. I really enjoy that group and going to the meetings is always fun!
Then it was back home for a few hours to chill with the dogs in the back yard. I was reading and they were chewing away on some yummy raw meaty bones. Once Heffner started getting hot we came inside. And now I'm getting ready to head out to Wilsonville with Bess for our drill team practice. I don't want to jinx it or anything, but I think I actually have the worked out portion of our choreography memorized! We'll see what happens when I add Bess into the pictures, which is typically where my brain turns to mush.
I hope that everyone is having a great weekend!!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Grab The Pole Trick Part 1

I've seen a few people train their dogs to do this and I thought it was pretty cute! The goal is to get the dog to wrap their leg around the pole and hold it upright against their body. Here's our attempt at the trick:

I really had fun teaching the dogs this trick! It took a few sessions for Bess to really understand that I wanted her to nose touch the pole. We did enough of the eye contact work previously that when she's not sure what I want her to do, her fall back behavior is to bore holes into my head. Because of this, she took longer to move along with this trick than Heffner did. Heffner actually started to sort of wrap his leg around the pole after two sessions. By the third training session he was for sure doing it on purpose.

My biggest hang up with both dogs was getting them to hold the pole tighter to their bodies so that they could hold it upright fully on their own. Heffner got the closest, but Bess had a harder time with it. For her, she might have also had some difficulties because the primary leg that I was getting her to grab the pole with is the one that has the scar tissue from last year's chest laceration. I'm not entirely sure if that would play into it, but it might. So if anyone has any tips on how to get either dog to hold the pole tighter to their bodies, I would love to hear them and try them out!

Part 2 of this trick will come next week where I demonstrate some of the "practical" applications of the trick that we tried out!;0)