Saturday, June 22, 2013

Getting Closer

Yesterday was a dog show day for Bess and Ruthie.  I had Bess entered in two runs of Graduate Novice and Ruthie entered in breed twice for our frenchie club's dual specialties.  The short of it is Bess and I did not qualify in either of her runs and Ruthie did not get pulled in breed for the first specialty and I pulled her from the second because it was really starting to warm up and I wasn't really feeling like sticking around until late.  Now for the long of it. ;)

Bess is definitely moving in the right direction in obedience, but we aren't quite there yet.  After the HUGE improvement that she made in Lodi, I kind of felt like we had turned a corner and things were only going to look up from here.  After all, she overcame the many distractions at that gorgeous venue, she worked on grass, outside, and in hot weather.  If she can put in smile worthy performances there that made me proud of her, surely competing on packed dirt in an indoor arena that she's competed in before should be a piece of cake!  Well, almost.  The things that she knew, she totally nailed.  The things that she's been a little shaky on in training, fell apart.  I'll focus on the many positives before I tear apart what went wrong and start in on questioning my prep leading up to the trial.

Bess' heeling is seriously improving!  Yes, it's still on leash in Graduate Novice and our biggest buggaboo is off lead, but it's honestly improving under trial conditions.  Her heeling was a little so-so for her morning run, but I was really happy with it in her afternoon run.  Heeling is my favorite thing to train and absolute favorite exercise when the handler and dog are in sync.  For me, there's just nothing that feels better than awesome heeling with my dogs! 

The other high point of both of her runs was that she came on every single recall!  We've had issues in the past, more so in competition than in training, where she just continues to hold her stay when I call her.  Yesterday she came on all of her recalls, and Graduate Novice has a LOT of recalls.  She was definitely more enthusiastic about her recalls over the high and broad jumps, but she still did every single one.

She also nailed all of her finishes (I pretty much also have her finish from the right), regardless of where she decided front was. ;)  And we had some interesting front placements that gave me doubt as to whether she could pull it off.  But she did!

And now for our not so great moments.  The drop on recall and the off lead figure 8 killed us both times.  We had no drop in either run.  That was the one exercise that she seemed the most confused by in the ring.  Instead of dropping, both times she just eventually stopped in a stand.  She knew that there was something that she was supposed to do, but just couldn't seem to remember how to respond.  Her fronts both times after that were also not great.  For the second run, she didn't even sit after I called her in the rest of the way. 

The first figure 8 of the day was the worst.  For the final halt, she ended up on my right side.  She was so distracted by the people who were our posts that she lost focus on me completely.  I lost her both times when circling to the right.  In our second run, I did give an additional heel command that brought her back and actually seemed to snap her back to the task at hand and cause her to remember what she was supposed to do.

Since yesterday, there are two general trains of thought that have been occupying my mind.  1) What am I going to do to fix this?  And 2) Did I do something in our training leading up to it to confuse her?  Leading up to Lodi, I have to openly admit that I did not work with Bess on anything obedience related in between our private lessons.  We were going once a week and outside of our lessons, I didn't do anything with her.  Lodi obviously went well.  This time around, I decided to work on the drop on recall in particular, the week leading up to the trial.  Since that's our exercise that fell apart the most, now I'm wondering if I was on the right track before and I should just not work Bess on anything obedience related leading up to a trial.  Maybe I pushed it too much and created more confusion.  All sorts of self doubts have crept in.  Her performances showed definite improvement, I'm just paranoid about ruining her tremendous steps forward.

So what am I going to do to fix this?  I know what I'm going to do about the fronts.  I worked hard on making the finishes fun for her and that succeeded.  She has a solid understanding of them, and proved that in the ring yesterday.  Now I just need to do that with her fronts.  I'm pretty sure I know how to go about that.  Now I just need to try it out.

Fixing the drop on recall may be something that I only work on in our lessons.  She understands both the verbal and the signal commands for dropping.  I have her do them randomly around the house and the yard and she nails it.  It's just her understanding of it in motion on a recall that seems to break down.  Maybe it's something that while at home, I will only work on having her drop in motion.  Once she drops, I'll release her, give her her reward, and that will be it.  I won't worry about her coming to front  after the drop for a while.  We'll see.

Not to be forgotten, the Mighty Midget got to go in the breed ring as a special yesterday!  I will admit that I feel way less confident showing a frenchie in conformation than I do a dane.  It's just so different!  For one, there's a table.  For the other, I just don't practice conformation showing with her.  I did more recently, but not that much and subsequently, it just feels a little awkward.  It was totally fun though!  She was a good girl and did what she needed to do, though she obviously a little bored with it.  Two friends of mine recently got a frenchie puppy and they came to the specialty to check everything out and get a little slice of frenchie heaven.  So they loved on Ruthie a whole lot and she just ate it up!  By comparison, being in the ring was not as entertaining and Ruthie centered.;)

As I mentioned, things were heating up after Bess' afternoon GN run, so I decided to just pack everyone up and head home.  So no afternoon showing for Ruthie.  It was definitely a fun day and I came away from it with a good feeling.  Here's to continuing on this road!

Saturday, June 15, 2013


So, I had a blog post that went up Thursday evening and lasted almost 24 hours.  I know that some of you read it.  The post itself got really personal and after a bit of time to reconsider, I decided to pull it.  I meant every bit of it, but it ended up feeling like way too much to share on the blog about my personal life.  And it was quite lengthy.  It felt good and it did help me feel a smidge better.  But I think it was a bit much to post on here.  I will do a brief synopsis though.

Basically this month last year is when my ex-husband and I were going through the decision to divorce.  At the end of this month it would have been our 10th wedding anniversary.  Ouch.  Two weeks after that last year we filed and were legally divorced.  I had a whole lot of crap going on in my life at that time and in order to "deal" with it, I opted to not really think about what was going on in my personal life and just sort of suck it up.  I had already started shutting down before the topic of divorce was brought up and that actually happening kind of finished the shutting down.  As a result, I haven't been training or working with the dogs like I was previously and I have horrible guilt about that.  It's also quite evident in my sort of sudden drop off in blog posting.  I thought that things were getting better, but this month has brought everything very painfully back to me.  Over the past year I focused too much on trying to fake being alright, trying to not make friends uncomfortable with what I was going through, trying to be upbeat and maintain a friendship with Adam, even though I often felt like I was the only one putting any effort in, and just generally trying to stay away from the painful emotions.  Not dealing with those emotions has really bitten me in the ass.  Things still feel fresh, other crap related to this situation has happened over the year to add to that, and I am having a hard time.  I'm trying to actually deal with these emotions now, but it's hard.  So you'll have to bear with me.  I feel like a bit of a disappointment with regards to the dogs this past year, but I'm trying to let that go.  I've got crap that I actually need to deal with and that needs to be taken care of before I can start feeling normal again.

In the mean time, I have amazing friends and family who constantly amaze me with how great they are.  I'm a very lucky girl in so many ways.  At the moment, I'm thankful that I have my dogs and I'm so very, very thankful for the amazing people I am lucky enough to have in my life.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


I hope everyone is having a splendid week so far!  Not too shabby on our end.  We had a bit of a torrential downpour that left me feeling happy that I didn't have to worry about watering my lawn today. ;)  And the cooler temperatures outside meant that the dogs could play around without getting too hot too quickly.  Ruthie, however, had other plans and went a little crazy when I pulled out the edible bubble machine.  I managed to take a couple of videos of her antics.

And speaking of accessories, we were featured on the Healthy Paws blog!! So head on over and check it out!

Monday, June 3, 2013

The "P" Word

In my life, I need a lot of this:

I would love it if I could have these guys, forever:

But barring some crazy discoveries within the next couple of years and me finding myself a nice sugar daddy, that's not going to happen.  I love being able to go hiking where ever I want, at whatever time I choose.  The dogs are ALWAYS more than willing to go any where with me.  Heffner, as my self appointed chaperon, feels that he MUST accompany me every where.  I'm okay with that. :) But as I've already mentioned, I need to start thinking ahead so that I have a running and hiking partner to take these guys' places when the time comes.  And what that means is the dreaded, but oh so eagerly anticipated "P" word; PUPPY!!

I don't know how many times I've mentioned on here that I really want a puppy.  I know it's not nearly as many times as I've uttered that sentence "in real life."  Heffner was the only one of the three that I've had as a puppy.  Bess would have been insane and hilarious as a puppy I'm sure, but I got her at 11 months, and am very happy that I did.  Judging by Ruthie's entertaining antics now and what I've seen of other frenchie puppies, I'm pretty sure I would have died from the cuteness and hilarity of having her as a puppy.  I'm also not entirely sure that I would be up to the task of house breaking a frenchie puppy. ;) And because of all of that and a whole lot more, I'm really looking forward to having a puppy again.

Yeah, it's going to be a freaking house full.  Yes, it's going to be a lot of work.  And yes, I will hands down be the craziest dog lady within a mile radius of my house (at least), but I also really want it.  I can't stress enough how I would have my guys forever if I could with them remaining themselves and sound of mind and body.  But who doesn't LOVE the idea of a puppy!!  Especially a great dane?!  Oh yeah, did I mention that it'll be another dane.  That's probably a little key when factoring in the crazy dog lady status. ;)

I've had some fantastic opportunities already present themselves, but the timing hasn't really been right.  There are projects that I want to do around the house and that means time and more importantly, money.  So I'm getting some stuff taken care of this year so that next year can be all about the puppy!  2014 is about as long as I think I can put it off.  I won't be able to start jogging with the puppy until she's at least a year and a half.  Hiking can happen before that, but the lengthier hikes will take a little longer.  This means that by the time puppy is ready to take on the responsibility of being my exercise buddy, Heffner and Bess will be at least 9 and 8 respectively.  Great danes don't have the longest life spans, so I think you can start to see why next year is about as long as I can put it off.

So many fun things to think about!  There's agility equipment that I'll need to have my dad and good friend of mine help me build so that I can start training and getting her used to that from the get go.  There's figuring out exactly who the parents are going to be (I've narrowed down the breeders, but the parents aren't figured out yet).  And figuring out how I'm going to juggle the introduction and rotations of everyone.  I'm sure Ruthie is just going to LOVE having another giant added into the household, and a puppy at that. ;)  The thought of starting over with a clean slate when it comes to training is really exciting.  Thinking about all the pictures and videos that will ensue!!  OMG!!  Puppy breath!!!  Okay, okay....calming down.  Puppies are a lot of work....but soooooooooooo cute!!

So there's my solution to the reality that my loves are getting older.....annoying the heck out of them with a puppy! lol

I hope everyone had a splendid weekend!  And if you're still reading at this point, I'm thinking that I'd like to put together another little video blog again.  I only did the one before falling off the wagon.  So send your questions my way either via comments or email (on the sidebar) to give me some ideas for material.  Happy Monday!!