Thursday, September 30, 2010

Meet Max!

I'd like everyone to meet Max! It sounds like he will be coming to live with us for a short while until he finds his forever home. It will be Secret's job to teach him to be a dog and learn to play well with others.

Max currently lives in an elderly assisted-living type community and lived in an in-home daycare in his previous life. He isn't getting enough activity in his new home, so I said I would help to find him something more appropriate. I can't say no to a cute Border Collie!

Max is awesomely well behaved and has super manners, but he is sorely lacking in dog skills. Apparently he was raised with a Shepherd/Collie mix in his last home, but I have a feeling this is the only dog he has ever known. We did a dog meet yesterday with all of my dogs (one-on-one) and Max was very scared & reactive to them. It is because of this that Max didn't come home with us last night -- We have a busy weekend coming up and I didn't think it was the right time. By the sounds of it, he will be coming home on Sunday.

Secret did her very best to try to make friends with him, but she was very unsure of the energy he was throwing off. She spent a lot of time in her submissive belly-up position (occasionally "singing" to him, which I don't think helped!), and by the end of our visit Max did approach to sniff her briefly. I think he'll come around fairly quickly. If things go well, I already have his next home lined up. If that doesn't pan out for whatever reason, I figure I'll post him on the MN and WI/IL agility lists to try to find him a home. If anyone reading this is interested in Max, please let me know!

Secret has been doing just super in her training. On Monday I had the jump arc set up as well as a set of 12 poles thrown in for fun. This allowed us to play with entries, and of course, work on weaving all 12 poles. She did awesome! All of her work was done for the increasingly ripped-up Jolly Ball. Man, I love that thing!

Last night, Bethany & Rascal came over for our last night of practice before the big event -- Rascal will be in his first agility trial this weekend!! They are coming to Zumbro Falls, MN with us for a fun-filled day of NADAC. I am so excited for them.

We set an Open Regular course to work on last night and all dogs (except Kaiser!) jumped 20". I ran Luke first, and then it was Secret's turn -- I made sure to run her BEFORE she saw one scrap of food, in the hopes that she would work for her ball. She did!! She did a whole course for her Jolly Ball, and she was AWESOME. Now, the handler needed a good smack in the face because I completely threw all of my criteria out the window (stop on contacts? what is that?). But after realizing what a moron I had just been, I did go back and we did it properly, STILL using the Jolly Ball! Sweet!!!

When we reversed the course, Secret had her eye on Kaiser's treats that she had been watching get doled out in front of her. Because of this, I didn't even attempt to bring out the Jolly Ball, although she might have surprised me. She still did very well with this run, but was definitely slower and required me to assist her a bit more. I should note that her distance work with the ball was *phenomenal.*

But we'll get there -- She's doing just great and I'm so happy with her progress of late. I definitely slack off on the contact practice. For what it's worth, we'll likely work on that tonight, if nothing else because Kaiser desperately needs his running dog walk re-schooled before Saturday.

Friday, September 24, 2010


When I got home from work yesterday, there was a box in front of the door, all wrapped up in plastic to keep it safe from the horrid, torrential rains we've been getting. It was a box from Schneiders! What does that mean? Secret's new blankie came!

It's still just a wee bit on the large side for her, but going down to the Medium would no doubt be much, much too small. Maybe she'll fill out some day. :o) Overall, Secret didn't seem all that keen on wearing her blankie, but I'm sure she'll appreciate it when the cold weather hits. The poor girl has no fat or hair to keep her warm, after all.

Kaiser got a blanket, too! I ordered one for him last year, but with all of the issues I had with them being sold out and out of stock, I eventually gave up. That's why I decided I'd better get with it this year and order early. If anyone is interested, you can find these blankets at . Great value, great product!

Secret finally succeeded in ripping the handle off her Jolly Ball yesterday. Yay... We'll see if I can still manage to hold/throw it. Hopefully I find a way, because holy cow will she run for that thing! I set up an arc of 7 jumps to send her through and she absolutely FLEW through the sequence for the Jolly Ball! Yay for speed!!!!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Jolly Balls are Jolly Good Fun!

Last week we received a shipment from Schneiders Saddlery ( with dog blankets for the upcoming winter season (booo!). Secret's was too large, sigh. So hers was sent back and exchanged for a smaller size. Hopefully that fits -- And don't worry, there will be pictures posted when it arrives. :o) She looks super cute in the pink plaid design!

One thing that DID come (and it fits just fine) was Secret's new Jolly Ball. Luke has one (his is red) that he goes crazy for, but it's popped & deflated, so we really haven't played with it much. I thought Secret would enjoy one (and needed to add $$ to my order to hit "coupon level"), so I added one to our order.

Secret was slow to warm up to it at first. She didn't really understand what was so fun about it. But I turned her loose with it on Friday while I cleaned the car, and apparently she discovered that it was loads of fun. Luke was going crazy with his at the same time, so perhaps that helps. Sibling rivalry seems to help everything. Granted, one of the best things about the Jolly Ball, in Secret's opinion, seems to be chewing off the handle -- So we must put an end to that. Luke ripped the handle off one of his and they aren't much fun after that!

Last night we were playing "dual Jolly Ball fun" between Secret & Luke and boy did she think that was fun! I believe it's about the fastest I've ever seen her run after a toy. Of course I had to see what she did over jumps for it -- Alas, the wind had blown over all but one jump (and I, of course, was too lazy to set any) -- But she really jetted over the single jump and alternately really dug in when I sent her and called her back. I do believe I'll have to get off my butt, set a jumping drill and try sending her through with the Jolly Ball as her reward. We might see new levels of speed from it. :o) The most shocking part was that she kept running to the point of being pooped -- It is a rare thing that will get her worked up enough to make her tongue hang to the ground. Some people might say she likes to conserve her energy -- Frankly, I just think she can be lazy. lol

We got up way too early (4:15 a.m.) on Sunday to drive down to Madison for a NADAC games trial with the boys. Everyone kept asking me why Secret wasn't running -- I guess she's been around so long that it seems like she should be old enough by now. Alas, the clock is still ticking.... February seems so far away.

Secret was pretty well behaved at the trial, although I hear she was doing some barking & growling at people when I wasn't at the crating area. She was exceptionally well behaved when out and about with me, however, which makes me happy. And I'll never find a better co-pilot for the drive down & back -- Although how she finds a comfortable position to sleep in while crammed in the front seat is beyond me!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Video Update -- Courses!

I took the above shot from the deck -- I think it makes Secret look like a puppy! :o)

Bethany & Rascal came over last night for some course work before their fun match this weekend. I took advantage of this and decided it would be "video day" for all! Why didn't I think of this sooner? ;o)

Secret did awesome! There were a lot of distractions going on -- The neighbor was mowing, Kaiser was screaming, Luke was barking, Bethany was standing there with the video camera...

I didn't even TRY to use toys in this session. Once Secret has seen other dogs getting treats, that's all she wants, so I rolled with it. That said, I think her speed was pretty good considering there were no toys involved! Her contacts & weaves are stellar, for sure.

For 13 months old, I'm not sure I could be happier with her progress!

She's such a good girl! I think we're going to have so much FUN when she starts trialing!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Rollin' Sixes

Last night I finally decided to revisit the 2 x 2 weave program where we left off -- which is introducing the second set of six weave poles about 15' - 20' past the first set. Heaven help me, but I just haven't been able to make myself commit to the program since we completed the first six days of weave training. We have been including weaves in our other exercises, but have not focused exclusively on the weaves, themselves.

I set up a trio of jumps coming into and out of the two sets of weaves to offer some variation and to continue to work Secret's entries. I used the bumper as a reward in the first session and switched to the fluffy tug and then the Wubba in session two (probably should have stuck with just the bumper...).

As outlined in Susan's program, we started out with a refresher of the just the first set, followed by introducing the second set on their own before connecting them. I started out with the two sets about 18' feet apart and Secret did a really good job at driving through both sets without missing a beat. We worked from all angles and threw in front & rear crosses.

I moved the poles to about 10' apart for the second session. Secret handled this just fine, but she lost steam fairly early on in this session. It didn't seem so much like boredom with the toy or the drill, but more that she just seemed quite tired. I was happy with the work we'd done for the night, so I decided to just call it quits at that point. When she's tired, she's done!

This was the first time I'd worked her on 20" jumps before & after the weaves. She didn't even blink at the change and we only had one knocked bar when she jumped flat.

(Like the dirt smudge on her cheek? Apparently jumping in the pond wasn't enough to clean it off!)

Secret had another good weekend testing the waters of being left loose while I worked at the Humane Society. Once again, Bethany took on the duty of letting them out mid-day. As we did last weekend, I crated Secret and gave all of the dogs their frozen food toys when I left in the morning around 8:00 a.m. Bethany comes between 1:00 & 2:00 to let them out and have a play date with Rascal. I guess she typically stays for 45 minutes or so, then she leaves Secret out of her crate until I come home, usually by 6:00 p.m. On average, Secret is up to about 4 hours out of her crate.

On Saturday, everything looked to be in place when I got home. I noticed, however, that all of the food toys were on the floor. Bethany and I had talked about putting stuff up when she left after the "Life Saver Incident" the weekend prior, but I figured she had just forgotten to do it. Secret had chewed a piece off Luke's on Friday night when I left them all home for a few hours, and then on Saturday I discovered that she chewed a piece off Kaiser's. Unlike the Life Saver toy, however, she doesn't seem to ingest the pieces of these toys -- I found the chunks both times.

Bethany called Saturday night to check in and see how the dogs were. I told her everything looked good when I got home, but then told her that I think we do need to put up the toys when she leaves because Secret is still eating them. Bethany's response was, "I did put them up! I put them on the table!"

Naughty, naughty Secret! She must have climbed onto the chair and gotten them off the table! What is so odd about this situation, however, is that there were three open bags of treats that have been on the table for some time, so that Bethany or my parents could feed them when letting the dogs out. She took all three toys off the table but left the treats? One of my friends noted that she did that because she knew that Bethany would get the blame for it. lol I wouldn't put it past her!

So because of this, on Sunday Bethany put the toys on the bar instead of the table. This seems to have done the trick and everything was untouched when I got home.

I have to get a course set up tonight or tomorrow for Bethany & Rascal to practice on before their fun match this weekend, which means that Secret should get in some course work this week. What I think we really need, though, is more jumpers work -- But Rascal needs to do contacts, so I'll be setting a regular course.

Oh! I finally got my PVC corners in the mail yesterday -- So it's time to head to Menard's to pick up supplies to *finally* build my table!! Something new for Secret to learn, and since I plan to teach it through shaping, I'm sure she'll love it.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


The above photo is the course map for our exercises last night. The boys were due for some distance training and I figured this set-up also gave me several things to work on with Secret!

Most notable was the layering drill at the start of the course. The distance line on this course map is for the Elite level, but even the Novice dogs on this course had to stay to the left of the double jumps. Talk about an evil test for Novice dogs & handlers!!

I don't believe I've done even a hint of layer work with Secret yet, so my expectations weren't terribly high for this exercise. Imagine my surprise, then, when she nailed it -- repeatedly! She really sighted in on her line and stuck to it. She never encroached on my space to come in to the inside jumps. Wow, what a good girl! I guess I'm installing a space bubble on her similar to the one Kaiser has -- Which can be a good thing and a bad thing....

We played with distance on the top portion of the course as well. It was fun to see Secret come blasting out of the tunnel and zooming through the hoops -- She had some speed last night! I was able to successfully get a good 10'-15' of lateral distance through that section, which allowed me to front cross at the bottom of the number 9 jump. I was also able to hang out by the number 9 jump while she sent to the tunnel and recalled through the hoops, so I was very impressed with her last night.

Space got a little tight at the bottom of the course, so I left the a-frame out and substituted the tire jump & a hoop for the finish. One of these days I'll stop being lazy and put contacts into more of our course work...

We also ran the course backwards, which involved a rear cross from jump 9 to the hoop at the top -- The angle was a little funky, but Secret didn't have any issue with it. I think I need to be a little more prompt with my cues, however, because several times I catch her looking back at me for direction and as soon as I tell her where to go she's off and sighting into the obstacle.

I didn't attempt the "out" line of jumps in the backwards course. I had done that with Luke and it was just nasty hard, so I kept things simple & happy by having her just run the inside line. She drove forward very nicely to finish up the last jump a good 20' ahead of me.

All of our work in the first session was done with the bumper. I tossed her into the rotation when I brought the boys out to work -- But then she'd seen Kaiser getting treats and was no longer interested in toys. The surprising news is that we did a couple of runs after Bethany & Rascal left (using food) and she was speedy & accurate.

Also of note, I bumped all of the jumps up to 20" for the stuff we did while Rascal was there & after -- This is the first time we've really put together several jumps at that height. Secret seemed a little unsure of this at first, but by the end of the night she was sailing through the sequences with ease. We'll stay at 20" for a while before bumping up any higher, I think. I want to be sure she's confident at this height before going up again. Ultimately, we'll have to get to 26" if we plan to run in the Championship classes in USDAA. She will be a 24" dog in AKC. Speaking of, I still haven't sent in for her PAL....

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

You ate what?!

This weekend I experimented with leaving Secret out for half-days while I worked at the Humane Society. "Auntie Bethany" was on duty each day to come let the dogs out in the afternoon, so the plan was for me to leave Secret in her crate in the morning and Bethany would leave all three dogs loose when she left.

It sounds like all of the dogs enjoyed their play date with Rascal both days. Apparently, though, Secret got a bit possessive over Bethany during their visit on Sunday and bit Rascal in the ear! That wasn't nice.

At any rate, Secret has always been fairly obsessed with Kaiser's "Life Saver" toy that I use to put his treats into when I leave the dogs (the other two have knock-off Kongs). It's never been a bit deal -- I sometimes let her play with it for a bit and have always taken it away from her when she starts chewing too roughly on it.

Well, I should have known that this would happen! This is what I found on the floor when I came home on Saturday (chap stick tube is for size reference).

That's all that was left of the Life Saver -- It's slightly less than 1/4 of the original. I started digging around under the couch and looking under pillows, HOPING that I would find the other pieces, but I knew it was pretty futile. Sigh. All I could really do was cross my fingers and hope that she had chewed it into small pieces that would pass easily.

The good news is that she did tear it into nice bite-sized pieces before eating it, as was evidenced by the NUMEROUS small pieces that appeared in her poo starting Sunday and continuing through Monday. Lovely, Secret. Just lovely. At least it doesn't seem to be causing any issues, unless you count the bad gas it seemingly gave her.

Bethany made sure to pick up the food toys before she left on Sunday, but this didn't stop Secret from finding her own fun. I would have NEVER pegged her to scavenge for stuff, so I was quite surprised to find one of our fleece tuggy ropes in pieces on the floor when I came home. One can never know if she was after the tuggy or the tennis ball I had placed next to it Saturday night (found under the couch when looking for pieces of the Life Saver!). The tennis ball was untouched on the floor, likely where it landed, so I'll take a gander that the tuggy was the pursued prize. The good news is that it doesn't appear that she ingested any of it.

So we have two attempts at half days of freedom and two fairly benign infractions. Basically, I need to do a better job of cleaning up the house before I leave her loose! I work again this weekend, but don't know who will be coming to let the dogs out yet. It might be interesting to try reversing the schedule and letting her be loose in the morning and crated in the afternoon. My only worry in that situation would be having my parents or Bethany come in to a big mess -- Unlikely, but entirely possible!

I got the weaves out yesterday and surrounded them with jumps to work on entries & exits. Secret did well in her first session, but wasn't so into it for her second session (using her Wubba for that one). She seemed tired, though, so I won't dwell on it too much. The work we did get done was very good, though -- She's still doing very well with front crossing at the top of the poles and rear crossing at the bottom! Love, love, love it. I really must buckle down and get her going on twelve poles, though. I've been much too lazy with training again lately.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Bumper Weaves!

Okay, so I've been a slacker. Big time. I was home all weekend and we did almost no training whatsoever. What a bum I am.... So really, I don't have any big news to share that Secret is now a super huge expert on a set of 12 poles. ;o)

What I *can* share, though, is that we have achieved success in using a TOY to reward for the weaves and it is resulting in SO MUCH MORE SPEED! Accuracy? Yeah... That one kind of went down the toilet, but it is getting better and Secret is learning to think a bit more. Weaving while jazzed up for a toy definitely requires more concentration from her than jumping while jazzed up for a toy.

We have been working just on the set of six 2 x 2's and I have them opened up a bit to encourage her to find her footwork. It's starting to work, as yesterday I caught her single-stepping a few times!

So what miraculous toy has brought about this single-stepping monster, you might wonder? It's a BUMPER!

Secret is loony-tunes over sticks and I have considered on numerous occasions that I should buy her one of those silly toys that resembles a run-of-the-mill stick. Unfortunately, I have not been successful in finding one locally, nor have I placed any orders online recently (sorry, not going to make a special order for a plastic stick!).

Our swimming escapades have also led me to desiring a floating toy for Secret -- One that is more desirable to her than balls (which she lets float down the river...). I recalled that she showed interest in Ailie's bumper this spring during our very first trip to the beach, and I figured they were about as "stick-like" as general toys come.

I stopped at Petco last week to pick up a bag of food (side note: We are trying Wellness Core for the first time and it's a hit!) and searched long and hard to find a bumper -- ANY bumper -- amongst their toys. My goodness, apparently they aren't a popular toy in this area. I scanned the area about four times before I finally found this one hiding:

It's a Chuckit! Amphibious Bumper toy and it was a hit from the moment I showed it to Secret! We haven't yet had the opportunity to take it to the river -- And to be quite honest, I am hesitant to do so without making sure she is highly emotionally attached to the toy. I am not keen on watching $12 float down the river only days after buying it.

So in the mean time, I've been just playing with Secret & the bumper in the back yard. She loves to fetch it and tug it -- It's not often that she gets so enthusiastic about something that doesn't even squeak (or have fur on it!). I more or less decided to try using it with the weaves on a whim and was pleasantly surprised at how well it works. So we'll keep at it and hope the streak continues!

I have been slacking on Secret's jump work since we started the weave training, so last night I set up an "S" shaped sequence using about seven jumps. I brought out her Wubba this time, so as not to over-push the bumper and lose any of its appeal. All jumps were set at 16" and she flew through the sequences! I'm very happy with how her jump commitment is growing -- There were a couple of times when I totally failed to support her line on the curves and she went out and found the jump on her own. This is an area where she previously would have cut in to follow my motion, so I'm very proud of her for this. Her rear crosses & speed were fantastic and she was great. We need to start focusing on more jump sequences and drills in the coming weeks. Winter will be here before we know it. :o(