Wednesday, November 30, 2011

PIR and Photo Challenge

This past Monday night, Adam and I headed out to Portland International Raceway with all three dogs for the annual Winter Wonderland doggie walk night! One night a year they close the track to vehicular traffic and allow people to come with their dogs. This is the first time that Adam has gone in years! It has rained pretty unpleasantly the past few, but this year we lucked out. No rain! Which also meant that there were a TON of people coming out to the event. I have to say, I do enjoy it more when there aren't so many people and dogs.

It ended up being a really nice night. Adam took both the girls, so that I could focus on Heffner and making sure that it was a more enjoyable experience for him.

As in previous years, the dogs were all decked out in their Christmas coats.:0) This year, with the addition of Ruthie, I had another coat to make. I went to JoAnn's on Sunday when I realized that I hadn't even bought the material yet and the event was the following night! I couldn't find any Christmas themed holiday fleece type material that I liked that was going to be similar to what the danes had, so I went a slightly different route. I bought some adorable Disney themed Christmas material for the top layer and then got a plain, lighter weight Christmasy fleece for the bottom layer to provide some actual warmth. I used a jacket that I had already bought for her as my pattern of sorts. Sewed it all up and I was pretty pleased with how it turned out! She actually likes wearing this coat a lot better than the coat I bought her. And it's pretty stinkin' cute!
I'll get a better picture of her in it. Seriously cuteness!!

Our plan of attack was to park, get the tickets, then go back to the truck and get the dogs. I did NOT want to stand in line with other dogs crawling up Heffner's butt and me getting more and more agitated and him ticked off. It would have ruined the night. As it was, it took us about 15 min. to go a half mile to get to a parking spot because things were so packed. That didn't exactly put me in the best mood. I was really glad that we had left the dogs in the car once we got in line. The line was HUGE! And during our enjoyable little stay, there were even a few dog fights between dogs in the packed line. Common sense does factor in at events like this. But I had a game plan and I was going to be damned if oblivious people were going to ruin my night!

I had brought along lots of treats because I fully planned on using this exposure to so many LEASHED random dogs to work on Heffner's edginess that I saw at the previous trial (though I have a feeling that had a lot more to do with being in pain from the three cracked toe nails on his rear feet, that I didn't see until Sun. evening). It worked perfectly!! I actually had him on a loose leash for chunks of the walk. And he also had some awesome heeling (go figure, there were treats involved)!! I made sure to give as wide of a berth to other dogs as I could and when some of the spacing was getting tight and people were walking way slower than I wanted to, I just asked to allow some space through and encourage the owners not to let their dogs sniff Heffner since he wasn't a fan. I did receive a few snarky remarks, to which I really wanted to ask them if they would prefer that I say something to them ahead of time and have my dog not react than to have me say nothing and have my dog react in a manner that would cause them to think that he was about to eat their dog. That's just one of those things that I don't get. When someone gives you a warning, it's in your dog's best interest to take heed. That and I REALLY don't like rude dogs. Even around Bess and Ruthie, I'm not a fan of rude dogs up in their business.

And I got pretty off topic there. The take home point is that Heffner was awesome! No outbursts at all!:0) Still going to keep up with the original plan to put some effort into that reactivity though. It never hurts!

In the process of enjoying the walk and also trying to make sure that we maintained a certain bubble around us, Adam and I didn't take very many pictures, so I don't really have much to share.

Which leads me into the next portion of this post.:0) Sam over at Mister Rugby Sevens UD is having a Christmas themed photo challenge of sorts. I LOVE Christmas photo challenges!! Even though I'm not always able to keep up with them, it's certainly fun to try. The past couple of years I've issued myself a photo challenge with the dogs to do a daily Christmas themed picture even single day starting on December 1st. Last year it was getting pretty tough to come up with fresh ideas for photos, but this year I have a new toy, er dog!;0) With Ruthie in the mix, I can do some new spins on photos that I've done before. I can't guarantee that I will be able to stay on top of the daily photos, but I'm certainly going to try! I'm hoping that I'll see lots of great pictures on other people's blogs as well!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Blogger Tuesday

As an amendment to yesterday's post, I realized that I hadn't actually asked Heffner or Ruthie to sit on the balance disc. I realized this as I was starting to work with Ruthie this morning and I decided to try it with her. And sure enough, the little squirt can sit on her smaller balance disc! I'll try it out with Heffner on Thur. morning, but I have a feeling that I'll have a similar result.

Now for Blogger Tuesday! My pick for Blog of the Week is Evolve Animal Services! The author of the blog holds a masters degree in Animal Science and a Ph.D in Nutritional Sciences. While still a relatively new blog, she has some pretty helpful and informative posts on canine nutrition. And what I also love is that she includes citations of papers that she references in her posts!! Totally awesome! So head on over and check it out!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Movie Monday - Conditioning

Today's Movie Monday is conditioning related. This is an exercise that you got a little taste of from the Parades video. Basically I got all three dogs to balance on an appropriately sized core disc. For the danes, it's one of the giant discs. For Ruthie, it's a much smaller disc that I purchased at Fred Meyer. And just for kicks, I had Ruthie balance on the balance pod as well. Currently Bess is the only one who will go into a sit. She's got mad skills with her butt.;0) I don't push the dogs to learn any of the exercises and things usually just progress however the dogs are most comfortable. Often in a manner that I wouldn't have thought to try on purpose! That's actually kind of how I started working towards this exercise, actually.

We started with the paw shake while the dog's butt is on the core disc. While we were doing that, Bess started walking across the disc by first getting all four feet on it. So I figured, why not try getting them to balance with all four feet on it? Bess caught on really quickly and she picked it up fast. Heffner took a little longer. I don't think it was really until after we started working on the four feet in a box trick that he started experimenting with all four feet on the disc. And then once we added Ruthie in, I wanted to hold off on posting this exercise until I got her up to snuff.

Without further ado, here's the video:

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Lets just say that yesterday's Civil War game was a bit brutal for beaver fans. We lost. Kind of big time. I stopped watching for a while after the half when it was only 21-7, U of O. By the end of the third quarter or beginning of the fourth when I started watching again, it was 41-7, U of O. Yeah, not so great. We did end up scoring two more touch downs, but that was it. Thankfully I work in a lab full mostly of OSU grads, so we will have some commiserating to do. We do have one duck fan, but he's already been told that he's not allowed to say anything. 1) He didn't go to college there. And 2) he's not even from this country (Australia). Therefore, according to the rules of engagement, he doesn't have a leg to stand on and can only crow about victories to fellow band wagon duck fans.;0) On the up side, my dogs looked pretty stinkin' cute!

As promised, though a bit later than I had originally planned, I have some performance pictures taken at the national specialty. These pictures were very skillfully taken by Olga of Gadabout Photography! She did such a great job capturing pictures of my guys! I LOVE them!! These pictures are a combination of obedience, agility workshop, parades, and the one half assed agility trial run that I did with Heffner.

I hope everyone has had a fabulous weekend!!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Civil War!

It's Civil War time folks! Today the Oregon State Beavers play the University of Oregon Ducks! Our little family bleeds black and orange since Adam and I both graduated from Oregon State. My dad also graduated from OSU as did Adam's dad and mom and several other members of his family. Our roots run deep for our school and we'll be rooting them on today! (even though the odds aren't looking terribly good in our favor)

And since I didn't have any Civil War worthy pictures of all three dogs, I decided to have a little mini photo shoot to hopefully get just the right picture. Of course, getting the "perfect" picture of all three dogs can be an exercise in extreme patience. But for whatever reason, all three dogs decided to humor me today and behaved very well for their pictures. Even The Midget, who is fond of pretending that she doesn't understand what "stay" means.;0) I was pretty pleased with how the above picture turned out! Naturally there are additional photos.:)

The Midget is NOT amused. Are they wrist guards or are they leg warmers???
Since I wasn't exactly sure how well I was going to be able to get all three dogs to hold still with the props I had in mind, I shot the pictures in stages. Here's the first group shot without any props other than Ruthie's "leg warmers."
Almost forgot the cute Beaver football, which Heffner and Ruthie thought was a stuffie for them.
Heffner had the distinction of being the one stuck wearing the hat.
And the final product is the one at the top of the post.:0) The flag that Bess is holding is one of those car flags that sits in the window. I warmed her up with it separately and gave her lots of praise for first putting her mouth on it and then for holding it. It was really awkward for her to hold. It's heavier on one end and the "bar" itself is oddly shaped so that it's not terribly conveniently shaped to fit in her mouth. The diameter is about right though. She's been used to working with her wooden dumbbell, so going back to plastic was also a little weird for her at first. Once she realized that she would get a lot of praise and cookies for holding it, she adjusted. Though I think she has a new found appreciation for her dumbbell.;0)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The National Continued - Final Wrap Up

Well, these little wrap ups on our trip to the national specialty are starting to drag on well past the event itself. Since there isn't a whole lot more to tell performance wise, I wanted this to be the final wrap up. But I do have some pictures that I will wait until tomorrow to share so that I have an easy blog topic for tomorrow for when I'm in a food coma.;0)

Tuesday was agility and rally, with the top 20 in the evening. As of Monday night I thought I was fully recovered from whatever bug I had on Saturday night. So I was very surprised when I woke up Tuesday morning well before my alarm was supposed to go off, with an upset stomach. What on earth was up with that?? My brain also just wouldn't shut off. Thoughts were whirling around in my head at lightning speed and I had finally come to the conclusion that I was simply nervous. That's what it had to be. Never mind the fact that I hadn't otherwise been feeling nervous or that I don't usually get antsy ring nerves until shortly before I go in the ring. After about an hour of this and not being able to get back to sleep, I finally came to the realization that I really wasn't over whatever bug I had caught. I decided to just continue laying in bed and hopefully the upset stomach would go away as quickly as it came. No such luck. The minutes kept ticking by and I kept thinking of all the stuff I still needed to do with the dogs and myself in order to be ready to run. Finally at about 7 am I decided that I would scratch my first two agility runs, which were time to beat and FAST. No real hardship there. And hopefully by the time I had myself and the dogs together, I'd be good to go. Agility wasn't supposed to start until 8am and rally at 9am.

Wellllllllll, I did my best to suck it up and get all three dogs potty walked and fed. I had texted my friend Megan asking her to scratch us from our first two runs because I knew that I wouldn't be able to make it. And I was finally getting myself ready to go. Megan helped me track down some anti upset stomach stuff so that I could try to make it through the morning. My friend Faith picked up the stuff, brought it to me, and helped me walk the danes out to the field. I still just wasn't feeling all that great. But I thought that I could suck it up and make it through. That really wasn't to be.

I pretty much went over that morning in a previous post, so I won't go into the details again. It was a very disappointing day. I put so much pressure on myself to have the dogs ready for that week. In the weeks leading up to our departure I was tweaking both my personal schedule and my work schedule as much as I could to fit in training sessions, lessons, and matches so that we would be ready and actually look like we were ready. To have things so utterly fall apart on my end was heart breaking. My friends and the other competitors were really great and I don't know how I would have made it through that day without them. I can't even emphasize enough how awesome all the people were! Between the physical help that I was getting with everything and the general support, these people are some of the most amazing people that I know and I love them all dearly!!!

So there was a bit of a meltdown, but now that the time is behind me, it's not as big of a deal as it felt at that moment. There are other trials and there will be other national specialties. Though I have to admit that I am looking forward to going to the 2012 national without any dogs to be responsible for!!

And let us not forget that I had various specific outfits planned for the various events! But how on earth could you really have a themed outfit for an agility/rally trial? Simple, go with a super awesome kickball uniform!!LOL And I just happen to have some pictures with me in my super awesome get up, courtesy of Olga! I'll share her photography information tomorrow when I share the rest of the great pictures that she took of the pooches.:0)
Nice bright orange shirt (I think that everyone on our kickball team went to Oregon State, so it's an appropriate color), lucky shorts, nice garish knee high socks, and soccer cleats complete with matching orange laces.:0) If your performance isn't going to be great, you might as well look "good" doing it.;0) Needless to say, aside from the being ill part, I have a feeling that I stood out a little bit.

That night was the Top 20 and it was amazing! Unfortunately I don't have any pictures from any of that, but it was so much fun getting all gussied up!

And that pretty much is all the rest that there is to tell from this year's national specialty. I have a feeling that I won't be competing with the danes at another one until we have our next puppy (which I am happily on the waiting list for!), but that's okay. It just means that I'll have more money to do some shopping with at the ones in between!!

And now it's time to head off and do some serious relaxing before the big turkey day tomorrow. I hope that everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Blogger Tuesday

My pick for Blog of the Week is Rescued Insanity! I am particularly fond of the poem that she posted today and just enjoy reading the blog in general. The blog is about Shiva, a merle colored rescue, and her mom and their daily life. The blog is sprinkled throughout with various interesting web sites and blogs that Shiva's mom comes across. I've followed along as they've done some pretty fun challenges and have also brought my attention to other fun bloggers. It's just an enjoyable blog to read! So head on over and check them out!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Movie Monday

Today's Movie Monday is a triple feature! I've got video clips of the danes taken from their agility runs this past weekend by Kennedy and her son. And not to be left out, I've got a funny video of Ruthie attacking a 2 Liter Coke bottle. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Agility Weekend Wrap Up

This weekend we were doing some AKC agility up in Ridgefield, WA. Both danes were only entered in Standard and JWW both days. As you can tell by the above picture, we have a little something to celebrate! It was an overall great weekend, and I'll just start off by saying that Bess qualified in Open JWW both days to finish her Open Jumpers title!! Now for the nitty gritty.;0)
First run of the day on Saturday for both dogs was Open JWW. Thankfully there were enough dogs entered in our height class at that level that swapping the dogs out wasn't overly rushed. I had taken Bess out earlier that morning to run her around off leash. Thankfully this trial site is on a really big chunk of land with several buildings and amphitheaters that weren't in use, so I could find a vacant out of the way grassy area to let The Crazy off leash to hopefully burn off any zoomies she might have had. Sure enough, on our first long distance recall she went tearing all over the place! I ran her around for about 30 min., which also had the lovely side benefit of warming me up.:0) I felt pretty good about the course and where the dogs were at mentally that day and I was looking forward to running. Bess started things off with a really lovely, clean run. I was so happy! Jumpers has been a bit of a curse for us in AKC lately. Part of it has been me not mentally always being there because I have my own hang ups about the class, but I've been working on that and I think I'm starting to get over it. Certainly after this weekend I shouldn't be saying that I don't like it! I put Bess back in her crate and got Heffner out. I had just the right amount of time to warm him up and get him focusing on me before we ran. It's a delicate balance with him. I don't want him out for too long, otherwise he can start getting stressed and the commotion of the agility trial can get him to a point where he starts giving other dogs the hairy eye ball. But I also don't like just ripping him out of his crate and putting him out on the course. So the perfect balance on Sat. and he also had a nice, clean run!! Woo hoo!! Both dogs qualified and Bess was even fast enough to take fourth place.:)
Next up was Excellent Standard with Heffner. Again, another lovely course (actually all the courses this weekend were really nice!). The ONLY spot on the course where we had a blip was towards the end of the weaves. Something caught either Heffner's eye or his nose and he popped out of the weaves and started to head towards the trailer parked on the other side of the fence at that end of the arena. I had seen a few other dogs get distracted by this corner previously, but didn't think it would be an issue for us. We restarted the weaves and he finished them the second time with the rest of the course falling nicely into place. Unfortunately it's excellent, so NQ.
Next up was Bess in Open Standard. She had been in her crate for a few hours and I probably should have taken her out to potty before we ran, but I'm not even entirely sure that was what the problem was. Between the tire and the dog walk, she decided to run straight to the exit gait. I got her back and we did the dog walk. And then she lept over the contact. Bleck. We carried on, and then our weaves went to crap. She kept trying to enter on the second pole. It took us the full three tries in order to get them completely correct. And then came the a-frame. I gave my easy command a bit early and she stopped right at the apex. But I figured I could get her to just slowly come down. And she did. Until she was about to put a toe into the yellow, and she leaped off. Bleck. But the table to the jump to the chute were good! And then she ran around the outside of the final jump. Um, yeah. Not even sure what was going on. I took her outside and she did pee a lot, so maybe that was the problem. We'll just say that was the problem in order to ease my mind. Obviously, NQ in standard.
I think I have decided that I hate tall to small days. While it does usually mean that I get to go home a little bit earlier, somehow I end up being more frazzled. The way things were shaping up, I was headed for some serious conflicts between Heffner in Standard and both dogs in JWW. I hate conflicts. They just frazzle me. Sometimes it's not so bad, but others it just makes me off kilter. Today it did that and I wasn't in the right frame of mind to be running Heffner. Who was also really on edge today, but I'll get to that. Our Standard run was okay. He was slow, but didn't get a warm up. And we knocked a single bar. All together, only knocking the one bar really wasn't that bad considering he wasn't getting a whole lot of help from his handler. So NQ in Standard. And we immediately went from the Standard ring into Open JWW. They had held the class from starting until we were done with our run because Heffner was the second dog in the class.
JWW was very blah for Heffner and I. Again, me not being in the right place mentally for him definitely has a negative impact. Not exactly a revelation there, but definitely something that got driven home for me today. The run lacked umph, and was trotting most of it. We had one dropped bar, but otherwise it wasn't bad. So NQ for Heffner in JWW. I put him out and got ready with Bess. Bess was focusing well and definitely on her toes. Which worried me a little bit because I hadn't had time that morning to take her out and run her like the previous day. But she hung in there. She went and visited a little after one of the jumps, but she came back and had a clean run! Q for Bessy!! And she even took first place in the class!! And finished her Open JWW title!! Woo hoo!!
After more waiting, Bessy was up in Open Standard. I made sure to take her out and potty her, so she was empty going onto the course. We knocked a bar on one of the jumps and I can't remember why. Then we had our nemesis the a-frame. She was better today, but still missed the contact. I really thought she was going to hit it. But right now it seems to cause her physical pain to touch the yellow zone of it. We'll see if we can work on that. Though I have to say that she has been really great in practice about touching it. Maybe it's just that the trial a-frame has horrible acid smeared on it and I haven't been able to tell. I be that's what it is!!

Overall, it was a pretty weekend. We had fun hanging out even though it was pretty cold. The chance of snow thankfully didn't happen during the trial, which made me happy while I was driving. But poor Heffner seems to have tweaked something today. He's favoring his front right leg. He also managed to split a back toe nail pretty badly at some point and I'm sure that doesn't feel too good either. And like I mentioned, he's been more on edge this weekend and he had some reactive outbursts on both days. This definitely stresses me out. We've got the next month off from all trials and I'm going to use that time to work on some desensitization. It's helped in the past and hopefully it will help again. I'm also going to work on it at the next trial we're going to in January. If I feel like things are still bad at that point or we're not seeing much progress, Heffner will be taking some time off trialing until it's better under control. I just can't handle having a 150 lb. dog taking offense to everything and making it known. Plus, if he's too a point where he just can't cope with the trial setting any more, then that's a clear sign to me that he is done and I need to remove him from the setting that is causing him so much stress. If we weren't jiving in the ring like we have been, this decision would be a lot easier. Fingers crossed that we make some progress over the next month!

I hope everyone has had a great weekend and here's looking forward to Thanksgiving!!!