Wednesday, August 31, 2011

four days of agility goodness

Just one more day of working and then four glorious days of agility goodness! The Triune 4 day trial is this weekend at the Blue springs soccer arena and I am pumped. Camping with a friend at the site, course builiding all courses all days, and just me and baby d with some running time and some pumpkin beer thrown in for good measure. AHHHH! I can't wait. I am hoping that i get good things out of my baby. Going back to just working parts of the course instead of the course as a whole. The past few nights we have been working on some tough weave entries and he is slowly getting there. I don't think that he doesn't understand them, I just think it is a physical thing and he just has to get use to using his body correctly and bending. We have been working with one jump and the wall to help him learn he can bend as well as the cik and cap stuff. I really think it is helping him to bend. He is for sure better to the left than to the right some days. Not ready to use cik and cap or zig and zag as I call it in a course but slowly getting there. might bring my cones with me so we can get some practice in. Now hurry up wednesday and fast forward to thursday afternoon when I can hit the road!!!!!

Monday, August 29, 2011

seminar weekend

It was a seminar weekend for both stella and deuce. Originally, the plan was that tony was going to take the puppy seminar saturday morning and audit the running contacts seminar saturday afternoon, I was going to run a 5 K that day with some friends and then I was taking the european handling seminar on sunday. You know what they say about the best laid plans right? Tony ended up having to work so I had to back out of my 5 K, take stella and deuce to KC on saturday and then drive back (2 hours), take care of dogs and get up and do it again on sunday. While I a super tired today, it was well worth it. I ended up auditing the turns seminar (cik and cap stuff) with Deuce and got a better understanding of what it is and how to train it and apply it. We had been playing around with it before but now that i really have a firm grasp of it, will be working on it in earnest. I also really enjoyed the running contacts seminar and had several light bulb moments. I think for sure we will have to buy a dog walk for this to work with stella, I do think she can handle running contacts better than deuce. I also think I am going to revisit the running a-frame with deuce with some new ideas in mind. I also have a way better understanding of how to place the stride regulators. Watching multiple dogs that were taking the seminar that were in different parts of their training really helped. I am hugely visual so seeing the different striding on the different dogs helped so much. Now if I could just move my a-frame out of the poison ivy field so we could practice, that would get me motivated to practice. I do think that I do not have enough room in my back yard to adequately teach him a running a-frame, which might have added to his not being able to do it correctly. He is getting better about not hitting the upside so hard and so high up but it is still is an issue and still affects his ability to vault over the top and stride correctly on the way down. I do think he is more mature now and could handle learning striding better now as I think alot of that is mental as well as physical.

Stella was a little star as we went through the puppy seminar but it was a lot of stuff I already do with her so not really a ton of new stuff. Really wished tony had been there because I could tell as I told him everything I went over, he just looked at me like so what. I really think if he would have heard it from Lori and seen it, he would understand how important it is. I work all my pups really hard on body awareness so she has been on balance discs and a variety of objects with front feet, back feet, all feet, and so on. The only thing I haven't had her do is push stuff so that was fun to try my hand at. I also am going to start working her on the cik and cap stuff and am going to go buy some cones today. All of my cones are too small so need something with a base that is a little bit more substaintial. She is such a little turd, did have to work on her not screaming when other puppies were doing their restrained recalls, but just had to back her way up and work on basic behaviors and then slowly work our way closer. She even got to go play with her bro afterwards and play with another older aussie puppy. So funny to see that her bro plays just like her with the growling and the neck grabbing. She got to go spend some time at Karen's house (brick's mom) while i stayed the rest of the day so I didn't have to worry about her screaming in her crate and interupting everyone's learning experience.

Sunday was deuce's day, even though he got to be out while we did the cik and cap stuff. He was pretty pumped to be the only dog I had there. Boy do I love this dog. We had some tough european courses with challenge one right after the other. I think overall, he did great, had issues finding tough weave pole entries but that is something that will come with time. He always has issues with the one where you are running perpindicular to the poles and he has to get through the first one and then bend back at full speed. He is body aware but still has issues bending. Hoping working cik and cap will help him with this. He is getting better so I think it will come with time. We started handling back sides to jumps differently so need to work on showing him more of the jump before laterally moving to tell him back. Had always just blocked the jump and had him go backside but you won't always be right there to get them. Ended the day doing relay from the european open and my team had to run the course at 12 inches because we had a little dog so that was challenging. I got two Es on my end so I didn't help the team but it was fun so no one cared. I only felt like I had one run where he got stressed but I was frustrated with my self and my handling and he read that wrong, even though I brought chicken for him for screw up cookies. Such a sensitive boy. I will be interested to see how he does this weekend with four days of showing.

Friday, August 26, 2011

eager to please

I am still trying to figure out this latest phase of baby-d's life. I have gotten alot of really great advice and am trying assimilate it all. Unfortunatley, while I can scale back training (what little i do), we have the "fall agility season" coming up which means at least two to three weekends a month of three day agility trials. I really want to use these trials to get into B as per my year beginning goal. I still have very small tiny hopes of maybe getting qualified for nationals in 2013 since it will be in Tulsa which is only 5 hours away from me, BUT i am putting NO pressure on him to achieve this goal. I also am entering a big new phase in my life, AKA I don't have a trainer 30 minutes away from me anymore to teach classes every week and do private lessons, so I am little bit nevous right now about this whole situation. Granted, I will be able to still communicate and see her occasionally for seminars, but it has been so nice to know if I am having a big issue, I could always come out and deal with it fairly quickly. I am also having huge flashbacks of harley. Harley was not good at handling pressure and fell apart and I don't want this to happen to my baby. It started with his table performance and then bled into contacts and start lines. We never set harley up to learn how to deal with frustration or failure. We never taught him to deal with thinking through problems and how to offer behaviors. Totally my fault, did not have the knowledge base I have now and that is not his fault at all, but he has paid for it. Don't get me wrong, he is much loved and is now my running partner, but we did enjoy at one time doing agility with him and still would if he wouldn't stress so much. In a way, I think teaching baby-d to be more of a thinker has been good but it has also been bad. I think sometimes when he senses my frustration (which i try to hide but sometimes quite frankly can't) he starts offering behaviors. Last night we were doing a really hard rear cross with a turn off of several off course options back up the a-frame (past an off course tunnel right next to the a-frame). It was a tough one and we of course had to attempt it a few times before we were successful. Well, we had another sequence that went the other way to another tunnel and he got it wrong the first time and then after that seemed to offer the first behavior instead of just watching my body movement and my verbals. I have wondered if that is what has been happening, confusion for whatever reasonand just offering of something instead of just listening and watching. I have several runs and several training runs taped or watched by someone else where nothing about what i was doing with my shoulders, feet, arms or mouth told him to do what he did.

I also need to get him neutered. He has been such a good boy up until this point that I just am not sure that this is what is playing into this equation, but it could be. All of the dogs we train with are fixed and he has been around in heat females and has never offered any attention other than maybe chattering his teeth or drooling at their pee. I have no desire to breed him, was just keeping him intact to get his measurements. he is good to go in AKC, just needs that last USDAA measurement. Now I know at this point he is probably not going to grow anymore, but I have to get one dang more measurement for USDAA because one judge measured him at 21. The other two are in the 19s, go figure. I am sure he is done growing and nothing would happen, BUT i want to be in championship with one dog, just once. I loved being in performance with miller as it was the right division for him, but I think Deuce is more competitive and a good size and should be in championship. Anyway, maybe it would just be easiest to get him neutered and get his hips x-rayed at that time. I like giving the breeder as much info as possible on progeny for their breeding programs so doing it more for heidi than my info.

Anyway, these are my thoughts as I am bored at work. He is my baby and I love him so dearly, and I hate to see him stressed or not loving what I love. If ultimately he does start to hate agility, we will look at other venues, but I think we can get through this. I hope to look back at these blog entries and know that it was just a phase and nothing more.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


This is where I lay it all out so here it goes. I am really worried about deuce here lately. It seems the stress level is very high for him no matter what I do. He seems to be shutting down a little more every time we practice and I hate that. I try and always have loads of cookies in my pocket for screw up cookies and I try and always give lots of praise no matter what we are doing, no matter whose fault it is. Last night was at its worst. We had a practice as it was nice and cool and maybe ran sequences that were usually fairly short 8-9 obstacles but tough. I really hate seeing him getting this stressed out. I have no expectations right now, just want him to have a good time yet the shutting down seems to be getting worse. I really don't know what else to do. We have barely trained lately due to the hot weather and now that it is getting cooler, I have only been doing stuff maybe three days a week and normally just very short sessions with lots of cookies. This morning really broke my heart as i woke up and every dog was upstairs in bed with me, including baby stella and he was down stairs by himself with his daddy. I really hope this has nothing to do with having stella. Tony takes her to class and I only do training with her in the morning and it is brief. I did do some agility type stuff with her on an off yesterday as we were cleaning up the yard. I hope this isn't the reason as this was the biggest fear I had about getting a puppy. Well, off to go run and try not to dwell on this latest turn of events.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

stella update

Miss Stella and tony have been busy bees finally and I am happy. Stella is now starting the bang game which she loves just like her big bro Deuce and has a nicely shaped down and sit. She is starting to be able to handle doing her hand touches, sits and downs in public with more distractions. This weekend, since I am home, we are going to take our show on the road. Stella is also doing well with her tugs and we have started lots of chase games with her involving tugging at the end. We introduced her to the tunnel the other night and she was doing a 20 footer with a slight bend in it by the end. She still likes it when Deuce goes through first but did several with tony and some restrained recalls. She is doing something i do not like so we have been working on this naughty behavior. If I am working deuce and she is not being held or restrained, she comes after deuce and bites him on the neck. It is almost like a control thing. We are working on redirecting this desire to grip moving object (mainly deuce and harley) to tugging. She is doing better so I think it is something very easy to work through, just need to be diligent. We don't need an agility dog that keys off of motion. We also had her on the down ramp of the dog walk last night with her tug toy about 10 feet out and had her driving to her toy. I was so proud of her drive and hope we can keep it up for her running contacts. She just seems to catch onto stuff so quickly, but again I think it is because she is a she.

Stella is also going to puppy class once a week and LOVING it. The funny thing is, they are doing the Ian Dunbar way and everyone is trying to lure her into positions. She just looks at them like what in the heck do you want. When they stand up straight and ask for a behavior, she promptly gives it and they are just shocked she doesn't need a lure. i love shaping:)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

day three of the sheltie show in st. Louis

I guess i just forgot to sit down and right this blog. Maybe I was trying to put the runs out of my memory banks or it was just so late getting back. We got stuck in a horrible storm and had to pull off of I-70 for a while and sit and pray and then we also stopped on the east side of KC to look at some sheltie pups for Lori's mom. I would have to say that the day was good and bad, mainly bad. We had stadnard first and a very nice course to run thanks to our judge, Linda Robertson. This was my first time showing under her and i have to say her courses were very challenging but i LOVED them. She is a great judge and very, very encouraging to all the handlers and the ring crew. The course had a very interesting weave entry, from the table to the weaves past an off course tunnel just screaming their name. Shape too much and you risked sending them into the off course tunnel, don't shape enough and you risked not showing them the weave pole entry at all. I really felt like we could handle this challenge as we have practiced this type of entry often. Well, call it fate or whatever but as I was sending him to the weaves and he was making his turn, he slipped on the turf and missed the entry. I think in retropect I was too close to the weaves and worried about the tunnel and didn't give him enough room but I really thought he could have gotten it with the room i gave him. Oh well, another thing to work on at home i guess and maybe I need to buy some stuff for his paws since alot of our trials are on turf now. We then had a long line of panel jump to triple to chute to tunnel. Again a wrong course option of the dog walk being over by the panel jump so you could either leave them in the poles and shift over for a front cross and run the long line with dog on your left or keep dog on your right and rear the chute and possibly have them turn before the tunnel. I felt like the dog walk was too much of a pull and I didn't trust him enough to leave him to get that front cross. Well, I didn't shape the line enough and I put the a-frame into play and he came over the panel, knocked the next jump as i tried to straighten his line, hit the a-frame with a foot probably, ran around the triple thank goodness and got the chute tunnel combo. Once again, my fault, not his, just glad he didn't try and splat the triple. I feel like we are so close yet so far away as a team, once again. I wasn't really that upset with the run other than the fact that he released himself from the a-frame on the O of okay and also on the dog walk but held his teeter. Have never had him release off of the dog walk but the a-frame has happened a few times. In getting him to not creep, to drive to the bottom, i sometimes quick release him and now I am seeing the product of that. Lori and I are pondering going back to a running a-frame now that he is more mature. Hmmmmm......

Jumpers was probably the weirdest run I had that day (easy to say with only two runs a day). It was a three jump curve back to a tunnel. No specific lead out needed, didn't want him to jump extended so barely lead out and slowed down fairly quick to show him the tunnel. What did he do? He turned right (away from where I was pointing) acclerated and took a jump probably 30 feet away all in a blink of an eye. Huh? Why in the heck he did that beats me. I watched the video and once again, I was doing everything right to tell him where to go and somehow he read it completely wrong. Got him back and had a LONG line to the other end of the arena which he accelerated like no other. Had to get him back on a 180 after a long extended line and he got it (YIPEEE). That was actually the spot I was most worried about, not the beginning. Then I think my brain kicked into blown gear again because i had planned a landing side FC and i did a FC in the wrong place and had a huge push back to the next couple of jumps that put him way wide for the weaves. Once again he missed the entry, mainly because he was going 100 mph and someone said he slipped again. Finished the run but I was a little irked, not because of the weaves but because of the beginning. It was a fun fast course that we should have nailed and we flubbed it up for no apparent reason. I watched all my videos over and over and had others watch and no one could figure out why he turned the opposite way. It was like he misread it as a rear cross but if that was the case, my outside arm should have been up indicating a turn on the flat as there were no obstacles within 10 feet of that jump. Sigh. The fun of running baby dogs.

I had lots of complements on how he looked all weekend, on how close were are to getting it, on how mature he looks compared to the spring or winter or yada yada yada. I know we are getting better but sometimes I just want to say a big fat WHY? Why did you do that? Why are you missing this? Are you stressed? You seem to like do this so why are you stressed if that is the case? I really though that camp would replicate what we have in the shows but I really didnt' get that from him at all to be able to work through it. He is a completely different dog in shows than in training. I have heard people say this before and really didn't believe them as miller is the same no matter what but i believe them now! I feel like I am holding up my end of the bargain but he isn't on his end totally. I guess we are going to go back to just concentrarting on specfic parts of the courses rather than the course as a whole and just getting those parts. Believe me, I am not hugely upset, I am just letting it out for my blog and I have ever confidence that we will get out of A and start working on B soon so don't mistake this for anything but me just blowing off some steam.

I do have a fear though and I will say it here. My trainer is moving to KC permanetly and it looks like soon, like in a few months. I feel like she is the only reason I have made it this far and I am really scared that when she is gone, I will really fall apart. I know I will only be 2 hours away and will see her at all the trials, but I really get so much out of our weekly classes. I think I have been taking from her, every week pretty much since she started teaching in manhattan 7 years ago. I have never sat out a session, have taken every single session for those 7 years. I have had one injury that sidelined me for a month and I still came to class and watched. I know we as a small group will still meet and still practice and I know that i can still take seminars and privates from her but I am really nervous and scared. She has done so much for us students and I know at some point the training wheels have to come off but I am still not totally ready. I am excited thought that i do get to teach at the field and continue working with the great students we have built up the past few years. I am super excited to make some extra money to help with my addiction and get more people addicted like me LOL! I have taught I think for the past two years or maybe three for all star so it will be super exciting to take over the agility business in manhattan.

Okay, wasted enough time here at work, need to head home. Puppy seminar in a couple of weeks with tony and stella and then fall show season begins. Three shows a month (heaven help me and credit card don't fail me now):)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The highs and the lows of it all

In St. Louis, bored in the hotel so thought I would write a minute. Too hot to do anything outside and Deuce barks in the hotel so can't leave him by himself and go sight seeing or shopping. Sometimes I really miss trialing with Miller because he is so easy to travel with. We had three runs yesterday and two today and it is so weird how much baby dogs can swing one way or the other running wise. Yesterday was so nice, very fast consistent runs with Qs in every run (T2B, Ex A JWW, Ex A standard). Great contacts, great weave poles (other than in T2B). Today weird things happened. For instance we were going into a sort of box type scenario with four jumps and he was suppose to go straight ahead and then turn back to the right for a 180. It is a sequence we do time and time again and it should have been a piece of cake. Instead, he turned off the 1st jump of the 180. I watched the video over and over again nothing I did with my body, arms, hands, or voice, said turn to the left in front of the jump. He managed to get over the jump but of course got a refusal. Got him back and he ran around a jump on the way to a tunnel, but my hand was down so my fault. We ended the rest of the run GREAT though and it felt so nice to get it back after a little bit of a weird bobble. In JWW, we weren't so lucky. We had to do a collection right at the beginning and once again, even though I have been working it and working it, he blew past me and we didn't have as tight of a turn as I had wanted. Because I had to work it more to get him in the tunnel, it put me behind for the next part of the sequence. Quite literally, it blew my brain and I totally went the wrong way and got off track. I tried to get it back, first mistake was on him, second mistake was on me but I just couldn't get it back. He ended up knocking bars, missing a jump, missing a weave pole entry, running past a tunnel and just plain craziness. I just ended up doing a wahoo loop to get the heck out of there. I look forward to running again tomorrow and avenging both of our mistakes LOL! It's just weird to go from such a high where he had 3 Qs and great runs to such lows of our last run today JWW. Part of the fun of running a baby dog.