Wednesday, October 26, 2011

On The Road!!

Yesterday after work was a whirlwind of trying to get the dogs some exercise while also getting everything packed up. It made for a late night. We hit the road today and have stopped over in Twin Falls, ID for the night. tomorrow is going to be another long travel day that will take us all the way through Las Vegas (ha ha) and out the other side. I'm not sure where we're going to be stopping tomorrow night. Obviously my days are pretty packed, especially making sure that all three dogs are taken care of. I most likely won't do much updating on the blog at all until Friday evening, once we're ensconced in the host hotel. I have updated the Facebook page for our trip with some pictures, and that's pretty much going to be the only thing that I'm able to update while on the road. I hope everyone's having a great week and wish us luck!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Movie Monday

Wow! I haven't posted since Wednesday! Needless to say, things have been busy. Thur. evening I went to see the photographer who took our family portraits and to get things set up for her to print a Christmas card for us. The pictures turned out great and I was really excited about them!!

Then Frid. night we had our final obedience match before the national. It went pretty well! Bess had a very happy retrieve with the dumbbell in her mouth, which is pretty huge. We're having some serious creeping in issues on the drop on recall, but we'll keep slowly, but gently working on that over the next week. Heffner was pretty decent. Distracted on his helling portion, as is usual for him, but otherwise solid enough for Beginner Novice.

Then early Sat. morning we headed up to Elma, WA for a CPE trial. I've driven up there a few times and knew that I could make it in two hours. I had planned for that. What I hadn't planned for was first getting stuck behind a cop on I-5 for 40 miles, and then getting stuck behind a semi for a bit. That didn't help. I showed up to the trial grounds just in time to set up crates, put danes in them, and walk the course. Heffner was the first dog on the line. Needless to say, the first run did not go well for either dog. It was generally just an off kind of day and that has a tendency to happen when I start my day off frazzled. Bess Qed in two out of her five runs and Heffner only Qed in one run on Sat. On Sun. they both Qed in two out of their four runs. I would like to remember off the top of my head who Qed in what, but I'd have to look at my spreadsheet because that whole weekend is now a blur! The most notable run was by Bess on Sun. in Standard. This judge had a tendency to put two tunnels back to back. That has a tendency to amp Bess up. She took off in a zooming loop, came back and finished the rest of her run for an otherwise clean run. Even with that zooming loop, she still managed to beat Heffner's time on the course!

And today I have been busy getting things set up at work for my absence and running a myriad of errands in order to be ready to leave on Wed. morning. Tomorrow is going to be crazy!! But I can't think about that right now!!

After all that rambling about to generally catch up anyone who has managed to continue reading, I do in fact have a video for you!! I edited it in the hotel room on Sat. night.:0) This video is just about putting together a variety of objects to work the dogs' muscles. You can start out simple with just a few objects and continue adding on as many as you want. You can also increase the difficulty by having the dogs change positions while on the objects. Without further ado, here's the video:

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

App Me Baby!

I think I mentioned previously that I've finally joined the world of the smart phone users. I got the latest version of the iPhone just last week, which is the reason I was late to the obedience match. So far, I am loving it!! I've already used the maps app that comes with it and love that. I've gotten some recommendations from friends on which apps come in handy for what reasons, but I thought I would ask those of you reading this blog if you had any apps that you thought were must haves! Hopefully everyone is able to comment on the blog (I'm still having problems leaving comments on a few other blogs)! So what are you app recommendations?:0)

Tonight my obedience instructor was able to fit us in for an obedience lesson!! It's the last one that would work before we leave, so I was very thankful! After a little warm up, Heffner was actually doing really well! I would be ecstatic if I could have that dog in the ring!! Bess has also shown a lot of improvement. Her drop on recalls are great in the house, but she's creeping quite a bit elsewhere. We'll work on it and it will get as good as it gets before our actual ring time! I'm not going to stress over that. Ruthie got left at home and once I got home and let her out of her crate she was literally jumping off the walls!! That frenchie has got some serious spunk!:0)

Things are otherwise well. Between work and everything else, I'm having to start very well organised and am definitely feeling like I'm running a marathon. Tomorrow after work I head on over to the photographers to look at our proofs, pick some pictures I like, and get our Christmas cards ordered. Definitely looking forward to that! And now I've got some dogs to exercise!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Blogger Tuesday

My pick for Blog of the Week is Two French Bulldogs!! You knew it was bound to happen and I can only hold out on the cuteness for so long! As the title implies, this blog is about the lives of two adorable french bulldogs. It's a very cute blog! And best of all, there are pretty much always pictures with the posts.:0) If you want some cuteness over load, head on over and check them out!

This morning I had a little mini (slightly redundant aren't we?) anxiety attack after reading an email. Slight back story. This year's great dane national specialty is being held in Litchfield Park, AZ. The festivities start in just under two weeks from now. All of the performance events are being held outside. ALL of them. Because the weather is generally warm still during that time of year, there are understandably some concerns about running dogs in performance sports during the heat of the day. In order to hopefully alleviate this problem, all performance sports will be run in the morning. This gets complicated for the rally and agility day. Because those trials are on the same day. And both trials are now being held at the same exact time. Heffner and Bess are entered in everything. That's four agility runs per dog (time to beat, fast, jww, and standard), one rally run for Heffner, and two rally runs for Bess. I did a little math in my head and I will have to know 8 different courses between the two sports, well enough to fully support my dogs during their runs. This is freaking me out a little bit. Oh yeah, and then there's the little part about running the dogs back and forth between the rings and also getting in my walk throughs. It's going to be insane.

After getting that email, like I said, I had a little mini anxiety attack and being me, I posted it on Facebook. And I have to say, I have some of the best freaking friends!!! My post was just me stress word vomiting, and then I have these wonderful people volunteering to help me hold my dogs or just help me in general. I love these people!! It's instances like that that are a perfect example of why I love going to these events. The people rock! In the end, not only did I get awesome offers of assistance from awesome friends, but I was reminded of why I love seeing and getting a chance to hang out with these people.:0)

In other news, Ruthie got introduced to the dog walk tonight. She thinks it's awesome. She also thinks that racing me to the end of it is one of the best games ever! I've been practicing with her walking on curbs, which are MUCH narrower than the actual dog walk, just so that she thinks more about foot placement, gets a better idea about keeping her balance, and gains some skill at drawing her legs more towards the midline. This last skill is definitely more difficult for a dog with such a naturally wide stance. She's been rocking it though and can race along the curbs now with no problem. So I figured the dog walk wouldn't be an issue. And it wasn't.:0) Gotta love that awesome little frenchie!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Movie Monday

This week's Movie Monday is of some clips I took last week during our agility barn rental time. Part of the warm ups that I do with the danes are some long distance recalls. This is possible because they both have stays. Ruthie is still working on hers.;0) I also recorded a little bit of our weave pole practice. I don't practice weaves very often with Heffner because 1) he's already pretty solid with them and 2) he really throws himself into them and I don't want him torquing his spine on a lot by practicing them. He already loves them, so it's a good reward for him.

Now that Bess is getting more reliable with her entrances, I need to work on building up her speed and confidence a bit at the beginning. She picks up speed as she goes along and starts using a more efficient one footed style. I would love to get her to the point where she can do that from start to finish through the weaves, but I want solid, gradual improvements and am not going to push her on this.

I'm slowly working on some foundation work with Ruthie, so we don't have anything terribly interesting to show. I just took some random clips of her going over jumps. She's so stinkin' cute when she's out there and she LOVES running along side me. And do you realize how much more difficult it is to "watch" a small dog out of the corner of your eye? It's rare that I lose sight of the danes on an agility course and I've totally taken that for granted. With Ruthie I'm finding that even my arm will block her from my sight. And heaven forbid she decides to race ahead of me and try a front cross on her own. That has caused me to almost eat dirt a couple of times!! Running a midget dog is going to take a lot of getting used to!

And finally, here's the video:

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Productive Weekend

So far it has been a very productive weekend for me! Again, helps to relieve the stress when I can mark multiple things off my to-do list. I've got most of my road food figured out and am going to wait until Friday night to pick up my food for the agility weekend. I popped by Plato's Closet to pick up a pair of cheap jeans that I don't feel bad Bedazzling the crap out of. Stopped at Claire's to pick up a few remaining accessories for my Halloween costume. And then it was a quick stop at PetSmart to pick up cat necessities and a new Zoom Groom for the dogs! The rest of the day was spent playing with the dogs, getting chores done around the house, and then going to the ballet in the evening with some girlfriends. Awesome day!

But I haven't updated about Friday night's obedience match with the danes. I ended up getting there pretty late and actually missed Heffner's Beginner Novice run completely. I was waiting at the house to sign for my iPhone, which requires a direct signature in order to be delivered. I didn't want my Saturday to be wasted by having to stick around the house waiting. Thankfully I at least got there for Bess Graduate Novice run. And I am VERY happy to say that we have a recall!! And a pretty enthusiastic one at that! I changed my "stay" command from an actual stay to a wait this past week. I saw another handler at the previous match use that command instead of stay and it got me to thinking. Bess has awesome stays. Even in the face of some crazy distractions that have cropped up at times, she's held her stays. I was starting to think that maybe the stay command was too strong for her. She has a wait command and it's generally my pause command and is very light. It seemed to work pretty well! We did have a couple of times where she still held her stay, but otherwise it was great! She came rip roaring up to me! Even with her dumbbell! The down side to these enthusiastic recalls that she currently has is that our drop on recall has gone out the window, at least temporarily. I'll be working on that this week. I have a feeling a lot of it had to do with me brain farting and giving a slightly different cue than what I've been using at home. I kept holding my arm up in the air for an extended period of time and her drops have always been not so great when I forget and do that. As long as I have a quick up and down motion, she's pretty solid.

At this current time, we're not futzing with perfectly straight fronts or worrying about crooked sits on the finish. She's come a long way and I want to get a firm foundation in the behaviors and have her firmly in the mind set that she CAN think through these situations in competition and still perform them before I start asking for more accuracy from her. My obedience instructor is completely in agreement on this as well. We need reliable behaviors before we start nit picking.

After everything was over I did take Heffner in the ring and sort of do an informal run through on my own. He was distracted as usual, but did pretty well. The heeling portion is going to be our bug a boo because that's when he has a tendency to do some sight seeing. Otherwise I feel pretty good about where he's at.

The weather so far today is pretty awesome! I started the day by taking the dogs for a hike and it was just gorgeous out! I'm finishing some things up around the house and then I'm heading north to go visit Stacie and Jere and their crew, which means that I get to see Greta!!! Greta is Bora's sister. So excited!!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Agility Photo Bonanza!

What a difference a day makes!! I got into work at 6:30am today and everything went REALLY well! I feel like I have a better grasp on things at work and things are coming together to-do list wise for the national. Saturday is going to be my big errand running day with Sunday being my fun day.;0)

I also believe that I have a new pair of obedience competition shoes! Adam and I stopped off at Famous Footwear tonight and I found a pair of shoes that I like regardless and I thought it would be fun to actually compete in them. I'm going to wear them at the obedience match tomorrow night and see how they hold up and also break them in a bit. I'm sure my obedience instructor is going to LOVE them!lol

And as promised, I have some new agility pictures of the danes for you!! All pictures are by Joe Camp, who does a fabulous job with his shots!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Food Poisoning Not So Good

I managed to get a bit of food poisoning that knocked me out for most of Monday and part of Tuesday, so you'll have to pardon my absence. That totally threw me for a loop and has caused a little bit of chaos in my work and home schedule. I also managed to sleep through my alarm this morning and wasn't able to get any training time in with the dogs, which definitely put me in a not so great mood. And then more scheduling "issues" at work have sent me into a bit of a stress tailspin at the moment. Grrrrr!

I will have some new agility pictures of Heffner and Bess to post soon! I bought a CD of pictures from the CPE trial that we were at two weekends ago, from my favorite agility photographer. I have one more CD coming and I'll be sure to shall once I have them all. I did download some random pictures that have been sitting on my camera for about a week now and I'll just share those now.

Today Heffner had another chiropractic appointment. It took a lot less time to get him adjusted today. Things are looking great and I feel that he's in great shape heading into our trip to Arizona!

I'm slowly accumulating a long to-do list of things that need to be taken care of before we leave for Arizona. A lot of the items are little things that aren't really of high importance, but I feel need to get taken care of prior to our departure. It's going to mean using most of my lunch breaks next week to get everything done, but I can feel little bits of stress dissipating as I check things off my list.:0)

For instance, I have GOT to get a cheap pair of jeans to bedazzle for part of our parades costume!:) Definitely high priority.;) I need to purchase my on the road snacks for the trip and also for the agility trial that we're going to be attending the weekend before we leave. And why on earth did I think it was a good idea to enter an away agility trial the weekend before I leave for two weeks???? While I know that I will enjoy myself, I lose that precious weekend to finish up planning and last minute things. Not the brightest idea that I've had.

I did finally take out my awesome canopy that my darling husband bought me for my birthday. I'm really glad that it's not the EZ Up brand, because if it was, the company would have had a nasty email coming to them from me. In short, the canopy is not easy to put up and I didn't even get it all the way up. I spent an hour putting it mostly up and then taking it down. And as is the way of things, I now cannot get the canvas top to fit back in the bag like it so magically came. Not too surprising. I am definitely going to be begging some help from friends in Arizona when it's time for this lovely to go up. I'm also hoping that the host hotel will allow us to leave the canopies up for multiple days since I will be needing it for more than one day.

Bess is also making me twitchy. If she goes into season exactly six months after she went in last time (which if you'll remember, was the day before a trial at a specialty), I'm screwed. She'll go into season I believe literally the day before the obedience trial. I'm crossing all that I've got that she'll wait until after we get home to go into season, but it's really making me paranoid. She's started getting super clingy and lovey, more so than is normal. Which is usually what she starts doing about a month before she goes into season. Not a great sign. I just have to keep her away from any in season bitches (in season bitches have been known to trigger other bitches into coming into season) and keep her from getting stressed on the drive there. Sure thing! The prospect of driving home with her in season and in the canopy with Heffner is also unpleasant. Oy!

But no worries, if I didn't have anything real to worry or stress about, I'd come up with something.;0) At any rate, I know that I've got an awesome weekend ahead of me and that's keeping me going!!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Not Too Shabby

What am I doing right now? Avoiding bagging the 300+ lbs. of meat that I have thawing in my garage! I'll get to it, but I also wanted to get a post written before I once again became too unmotivated to.

Last night I had both danes entered in our obedience club's match. Heffner was in Beginner Novice and Bess was in Graduate Novice, the classes that they'll be competing in at the national specialty. Over all I would have to say that their performances weren't too shabby. I knew that we'd have things to work on and after doing full run throughs, I've got a better idea of what specifically we need to work on before next Friday night. Thankfully our club is having matches every Friday night in October and I have both dogs signed up them.:0) I'm trying to be as prepared and trial ready as we can be.

Bess was up first. The Graduate Novice exercises are relatively new to her. And to up the funness of it all, her recalls have been an issue of late. As in I call her, and she holds her stay like a freaking champ! Two thumbs up on the stay (and the reason why I'm going to try using a different word with her in hopes of getting over that), two thumbs down on the recall. Our instructor has been fabulous at giving me some ideas on how to work through this with her and they have been working as of late. But in a higher stress environment where Bess would prefer to let the stress reign and not think through these exercises like she is fully capable of, our recent work went down the tube a little. But that's okay, I figured out how to fix it and I also figured out how she gives away when she's not going come on the first command.;0) She's a trixy little minx that one! You see, her ears give her away. If she's going to come on the first recall command, she's giving me great ears. By giving me great ears I mean that her ears are fully alert, forward, and she is clearly waiting for my command. If her ears are off from this position by a hair, then she won't come on the first command. This is very good to know. And she was also very consistent on this. Oh yes, and did I mention that the majority of the exercises in Graduate Novice involve recalls?lol All I can say is thank goodness for our obedience instructor and thank goodness for our awesome obedience club having these matches that will have the dogs and I in better shape for the trial!!

Overall and considering Bess' proclivities of late, she did very well and I'm incredibly pleased with how she is coming along. And she totally rocked the Open stays!! Since Graduate Novice has an out of sight down stay, we went in with the Open dogs and did the full stay exercise. She nailed it!!

After more runs it was Heffner's turn in Beginner Novice. I am toying with how much warm up time he needs. The way that we do our obedience lessons, he doesn't get much warm up time at all and he can totally handle it in that low distraction setting, but how much time do we need in a trial setting? So I gave him very little warm up and treated it more like we were getting ready for our lesson and I used food rewards during the run (Bess does not get food rewards during her runs, though she may get some in between exercises where we actually go up to the table outside of the ring to get them). Due to Heffner's reactivity, and the fact that he hasn't gotten out much this summer except on hikes, I wanted the cards stacked in our favor in this instance. He was definitely distracted by the furry dogs, i.e. golden retriever and border collie. But we worked through that. He is fully capable of learning that depending on the setting he really needs to learn to work through this reactivity. He's learned to deal with it in an agility setting, now he needs to learn that obedience is very similar. We had two particularly distracted moments during the run, but overall, not as bad as I thought it was going to be. We are definitely going to have to work on the front now because he's decided that coming to front includes a down instead of a sit. Oy! Again, things to work on and be prepared for next week. I'm going to try giving him a longer and better warm up and see how much that helps him or if it makes a difference at all.

Ruthie got to come along for fun to watch. She was very good in her crate and I only heard her whine a little bit while I was behind the curtain during Bess' stays. I toyed around with her a little after both danes were done and most of our stuff was loaded back into the truck. She had some adorable fronts and her attention on me is just awesome!! She was working really well even without any food rewards.:)

So two thumbs up for last night!! I hope everyone's weekend is off to a great start! Now I'm off to the garage to immerse myself in raw meat for the next several hours.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Blogger Tuesday

My pick for Blog of the Week is Denise Fenzi's blog!! She is a professional dog trainer who is known for her motivational style of training to help build drive and motivation to make for great competitive obedience teams. While her blog is still relatively new, I've enjoyed it so far! There is great commentary on dog training in general and helpful videos on what she's talking about. I think this an appealing blog for anyone interested in training! So head on over and check it out!

In other news, tonight we go back to agility barn rental times each week now that the weather has cooled. The exciting part is that I'm going to be taking Ruthie along with us each night! I'm not pushing her agility training and I'm taking things nice and slow and am putting heavy emphasis on a solid foundation. It's going to be really nice to be able to actually work her around real agility equipment and start getting her used to obstacles like the chute and the tunnel. And also teaching her that pottying happens OUTSIDE the ring!;0) Wish us luck!!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Movie Monday

The votes are in and Bess' Parades music will be "Larger Than Life!":0) Now to get the CD burned, the dogs' individual schpeels written, and everything mailed off! With Kennedy's help, we've come up with some ideas for the dogs' collars that I think will be really cool!!

And now on to Movie Monday! Here is the conglomeration of video clips that I took of the dogs at the beach a couple of weeks ago. There are some really cute moments on there! The danes and Ruthie running around. Ruthie chasing the sea foam. Ruthie digging a hole under the truck. Bess laying Heffner out on the sand during a fit of zoomies. And this hilarious zoomy that Ruthie had which ended in a what looked like a drop on recall. Cute stuff! Enjoy!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

CPE Trial

Yesterday I had both danes entered in a CPE agility trial down in Turner, OR under one of my favorite judges. I didn't have any time yesterday to post after the trial due to a dinner engagement, and I've been tied up with other things today and don't have a whole lot of time left today to get this post together. So this is going to be surprisingly short and sweet (I think). Here goes!
We started off the day with Jackpot. I had a looping plan that I was going to do with both dogs and I knew that the jackpot portion of the course was absolutely doable with either dog. All I had to do was basically kill time until the buzzer blew and I could do the jackpot. Pulled that off without a hitch with Heffner. Sweet! Bess had other ideas. She was getting a little stressed by the trial site and just let it rip on the course. Thankfully she didn't knock a single bar and in her crazy zoomies managed to take some additional obstacles and thus ensure that we accrued enough points in the opening. Oh yeah, and she almost took the judge out on one zooming pass. D'oh! End result: Heffner Q with 1st place and Bess Q with 2nd place.
Next up was Standard. Heffner had a lovely run, but was starting to get a little sore from a combination of things that I'll go into later. He initially refused both tunnel entrances. Thankfully CPE doesn't count refusals, so his run was clean. Bess had a mostly good run. I made the bad decision of trying to race her to the end of a straight tunnel at #5 and almost paid dearly for it with a very near miss collision as she shot out of the tunnel like a bat out of hell. There was an audible gasp from onlookers. The rest of the course went otherwise well. End result: Heffner Q with 2nd place, Bess Q with 1st place.
Next up was Wildcard. The game plan was to do as few tunnels with the big guy as possible, which meant that I would do two As and a B on the course. That went off without a hitch. Next up was Bess. Everything was going well until we looped around to do the weave poles at #7. The tunnel was just too much for her to resist and she took the tunnel. That would be an off course. There are no off courses allowed in Wildcard starting at Level 3. D'oh! End result: Heffner Q with 1st place, Bess NQ due to off course.
Our final run of the day was Colors. On this course, I failed Heffner. It's a short course. There's no reason to get lost on it. It's not overly complicated. It doesn't have so many twists and turns that it would be understandable if a handler wasn't paying enough attention and got lost. However, that's exactly what I did. After he came out of the tunnel, I got lost. I spent some time bumbling around. I think there may have been a dropped bar in there, which is an automatic NQ in Colors. I felt awful. I thought I was on my game and really being mentally there for my dogs, but I totally dropped the ball for Heffner. Not the way that I wanted to end the day for him. Bess, I did a much better job with. She actually had her best run of the day. She kept it together and was nice and responsive to me. End result: Heffner NQ, Bess Q with 1st place.

This was the first time that we've trialed at this site. I'd been warned previously that the site most likely wasn't for me by my instructor since she knew what my preferences were with the dogs. For one, the crating space is incredibly limited. This barn has the least amount of crating space available that I have yet seen at a trial site. I have this rule of thumb that if I have to show up to a trial site an earlier than an hour before the trial starts in order to have a chance at having crating space, then it's ridiculous. I got there at 7am and all the crating spaces were fully taken.

Okay, so I end up keeping the dogs in the truck. Wouldn't be the first time that I've done that, though usually it's of my own volition and not because crating isn't a possibility. Unfortunately keeping both dogs in the truck didn't really work too well for either one. Heffner doesn't settle down as well in the truck unless I'm able to park in a secluded enough spot that he's away from the commotion of the trial. Parking was another bummer, but I'll get to that. In a nut shell, Heffner didn't really settle the whole time that we were there. Since Heffner couldn't settle down, that meant that Bess couldn't relax since they were stuck together in the same space. This was wearing on both dogs and I could tell it in their respective performances.

Parking was interesting. There was plenty of parking, but there was no way of getting a spot that was at all secluded away from things. And actually, the further out I parked, the more likely I was to have to deal with people exercising their dogs off leash around the truck. Which was not very cool. Even though it states on the premium in all caps that all dogs must stay on leash unless competing in the ring, there were a ton of people who had their dogs off leash running around in the field where I had parked. Not cool when I'm trying to exchange dogs out of the back of my truck and have one reactive dog who wants to control the activity that is going on outside of his truck. Or the awesome person who only put dogs on leash right before entering the building and then unleashed them as soon as they exited the building so that her dog could go zipping past my truck while I was again trying to exchange dogs for their runs. The loose dogs everywhere on site got really old. Most of the trials we go to are in Ridgefield at the fairgrounds there and the vast majority of people who let their dogs off leash to exercise, do it a good distance away from the rings where they won't interfere with anyone else's dogs. Apparently I've become too used to this and went into this trial with the misunderstanding that managing Heffner would be as simple as it is at the other trials.

Thankfully I only entered one day of the trial. As I said previously, I've avoided trialing at this site but it was suggested that I wouldn't like it. I thought I should at least give it a try since there are so many CPE trials held there. Lesson learned. I will not be entering any further trials at this site.

And that's how this post got much longer than intended. Sorry. I was a bit annoyed yesterday and my usual friends who I could talk this through with were not entered this weekend. Therefore you all get to hear it. Again, sorry. I hope everyone had a great weekend!!