Tuesday, November 29, 2011

New Favorite Toy

It's a stick! No wait, it's rubber. It's both! It's a rubber stick!!

I am starting to lose track of Secret's "favorite toys." Back when we struggled with toy drive it seemed like I was constantly on the search for something that would hit "favorite toy" status. Now it seems like everything I bring home is a hit.


I heard about these rubber stick things a while back, or rather, I believe I saw someone using one in a YouTube video. Considering that sticks were the first objects Secret viewed as a toy and would fetch, I figured this toy would be a hit with her. I'm not entirely sure why I didn't get one sooner, but such is life.

I saw one yet again in a video last week, so I went on Google and searched for "rubber stick" and landed at a site called "Baxter Boo." They were offering "Grriggles Rubber Sticks" for just $10 each and free shipping! Win! I even found a coupon code for 20% off. I got one in purple and one in blue and let me tell you, it's a winner!

They are not indestructible (like the super scary Zogoflex material used in the Hurley toy), so it's not something that I can leave out and about for her to chew on (I let her have it for five minutes last night and she already took a chunk off the end...) --- But it makes for another super fun training toy! We can tug with it and enjoy the fun way it bounces when thrown!

So that's what we did. I set up a small, simple training exercise in the yard last night. No courses because I was lazy... I decided to spare you from one of my horrible Paint drawings and instead snapped a picture of the layout.

It offered numerous opportunities to work on serpentines, threadles, wraps, push throughs, ketchkers, etc. I'm very happy with Secret's attitude and eagerness to play through these maneuvers, most of which we don't spend much time on. She's also a super sensitive dog who can sense when I don't have a clue what I'm doing, so I'm happy she kept her speed & motivation up while I blundered through with pretty much zero plan to speak of. I am so terrible at thinking on the fly and do much better when I follow a plan. But we made it through and I think we both managed to learn a few things. I was very impressed with her wraps and ability to find the back side of the jumps!

I also had the dog walk set up for Kaiser, so we did a few reps on that. I don't anticipate having any training issues this winter once the contacts go away, but it never hurts to get in a few more sessions. It was nice to see her not self-releasing this time, too. With the lack of training coming our way, I'll have to start using trials to make sure I proof her behavior and don't let the early releasing get out of hand this winter.

I have been struggling the past couple of weeks with Secret's newest pastime. It's not technically new because digging & dirt eating tends to come with every spring thaw, but I have no idea why she's started it up now. She's not a digger in the sense that many dogs are -- She digs to get fresh dirt to eat. Luke is also to blame, but he usually just goes over and eats dirt that Secret already dug up vs. contributing to the size of the holes.

Right now we have two major spots going on in the yard. I have filled these holes in NUMEROUS times and they just keep reappearing. I do wonder exactly how much dirt the dogs are ingesting since there is so rarely any dirt around to push back into the holes... The above photo is the small hole. This.... is the big one.

Naughty, naughty dogs. Stop ripping up my agility yard!!! Thankfully I have a decent sized dirt pile remaining from some landscape work we did around the house when I first moved in, but if these holes keep up the pile will be toast within a year.

I know that some of our previous digging excursions have been after the moles/voles and chipmunks, but apparently these spots just have good eating dirt. Sigh. The only reason to look forward to snow & frozen ground is so that we can break this habit again -- then they can move to eating snow, I guess.

Oh, and if you hadn't guessed it, the dog walk didn't get moved inside yet. :o) Go figure.

Shelter Pet Project!

Today is a day set aside to honor our pets who were adopted from a shelter or rescue organization! The Shelter Pet Project is trying to spread the word about what GREAT companions these animals make and I am with them 100%!

There are many reasons people opt not to rescue -- They think that rescue dogs come with "baggage." They find it depressing to visit shelters. They "only want puppies" (guess what, both Luke & Secret were adopted as puppies -- puppies end up in rescue, too!). They don't think their breed is available through rescue. Some people just don't really even realize it's an option!

There are SO MANY great dogs available from your local shelters and rescue groups -- and the vast majority of them end up there through no fault of their own. We recently had a young female cattle dog come into our shelter as a stray. She is an AMAZING dog. Someone has obviously spent time working with her and she has a very bright future ahead of her. By not considering a shelter pet, someone would totally miss out on a super awesome dog like Abby.

Border Collie Rescue of MN (where Secret was adopted) recently listed some really nice prospects that were surrendered from an unwanted litter. We are closing in on the two-year anniversary of Secret's adoption and boy am I hankering for a puppy right now. These two make it hard to resist! http://bcrofmn.org/dogs/available/a-kybcpups.php I am partial to the one with more white, personally. Sounds like they will both make great performance prospects!! Alas, I think I have my hands full at the moment so they will have to find a great home with someone else.

So if you or anyone else you know is looking for an addition to your family, don't hesitate to check out shelters & rescue groups! Keep shelters in mind for pets other than cats & dogs as well. We regularly have numerous small critters available such as hamsters, mice, gerbils, rabbits, guinea pigs & birds! We've even had snakes, turtles & ferrets, so the possibilities are endless. Support your local shelter!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Turkey Day Training

Sorry, Secret. Thanksgiving is hosted by my aunt & uncle each year, which means you don't get to go along and there are no leftovers for me to bring home to share with you. Bummer, I know. I'm sure you would have loved the sweet potatoes and the chocolate pecan pie. I know I did! :o)

Thanksgiving day was absolutely lovely. I worked at the shelter in the morning and my parents were nice enough to go pick up the dogs and take them to their house so that I wouldn't have to rush home for anything. The puppers always enjoy a field trip to Grandma & Grandpa's house, I know.

We got home around 3:30 or so and it was 50-some degrees and sunny outside. I felt like a bloated tick from gorging on sweet potatoes (forget turkey & pie, I seriously think sweet potatoes are the bomb), but I knew I just couldn't let the day pass without doing SOMETHING agility related with the dogs. As we all know, we are going on borrowed time with the nice weather here. It could literally snow at any moment (okay, not really -- the weather guessers have promised we are still good for a bit).

Even so, I was so unmotivated to... well, even move at that point. lol So I sat down and dug through my messy pile of courses to try to find something inspiring. I stumbled upon this Masters Jumpers course that I printed out from Bud Houston's blog ages ago. I thought it looked like a lot of fun and offered interesting challenges -- I couldn't tell you why I have failed to do anything with it until now!

I replaced the 7-9 sequence with a set of 12 weave poles. Numbers 10, 11, 3, 4, 14 & 15 were hoops because I was feeling lazy and felt like getting a minimal number of jumps off my deck (where I am storing everything IN CASE it snows).

It was an interesting, fun & educational course. Secret did really great!

For the opening sequence I played around with running with her and sending her laterally to number three while I got in place to front cross at four. This was successful, as was leading out to number four and calling her through.

I anticipated more of an issue with the serpentine sequence, but all three dogs managed to get through it without sucking into the tunnel. I stayed between four & five and then rear crossed the jump into the weave poles. It could be that this sequence would cause more problems if using jumps vs. hoops, as I can see the momentum of the jump landing them right in the tunnel if you aren't careful. With the hoops I was able to create a far more shallow line since there is no worry of knocking a bar at number four.

Secret's weaves were super, so yay for that! I still plan on having her see the chiro before the next trial just to make sure everything is hunky dory. There was a goodly amount of distance between the weave poles and the number 10 hoop, so I left Secret in the poles to get into place to support 10 -- If I didn't, it was very easy for her to cut in early on me.

I expected there to be more of a tunnel sucking force between 12 & 13 and was surprised to have Secret spin back at me in this section. Lesson learned, support the obstacles! It's hard when you are waddling from a full belly, though. Thankfully she was able to find the hoops at the top on her own while I waited between 16 & 17.

The end proved trickier than I thought. Wrapping the hoop at 18 was not an issue at all (again, a different challenge with a jump!), but the last obstacle was proving to be nearly impossible if I stayed on the left side of the tunnel. I just couldn't beat her to the end for a push, so instead I had to do a front cross at the wrap to end up on the right, which would naturally pull her to the last obstacle. I would have totally failed this challenge at a trial because it took a while for the light bulb to click on for this epiphany.

But you know what's super cool? I brought Secret back out for a second go-round because we still had a little bit of light left -- The jumps were all still down at 8" (all four of them...), but she was actually FASTER in her second outing than her first! Yahoo for not shutting down on session two, baby dog. I just ran her through in once and since she ran it clean we stopped there and I just played with her for a bit with her bumper.

The rest of the holiday weekend was pretty boring for the dogs. My parents let them out for me Friday & Saturday, which involved play dates with Lexi. Bethany took care of them yesterday, so hopefully that means Rascal came over to visit. It is quite dark by the time I get home from the shelter, so all we are able to do is play frisbee or ball by porch light -- although I'm pretty positive the dogs don't mind this at all!

I have to move the dog walk into the garage soon. I keep putting it off, but I know I have to get it done before we get dumped on with a foot of snow. I'm hoping to work the dogs tonight, so we'll see. Maybe Wednesday. I'll just keep procrastinating until there is actually snow in the forecast, I'm sure. :o) It's almost December and we are still running agility outside! Yay!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Running!



Somebody I subscribe to on YouTube posted a video the other day that was a really cool compilation of clips of the dog running. Lots of slow-mo and other interesting stuff (like the dog jumping for the ball and totally missing it, lol). The video actually kept my attention for almost four minutes, so it was obviously fairly entertaining. Plus the dog was really wicked fast, which never hurts.

So I thought, "I want to see my dogs run in slow mo!" Okay, this would be awesome if I:

A) Had a high definition camera

and

B) Had a human to hold said camera

What I do have is an aged video camera and a lawn chair upon which to set it. Yeah. Not so awesome. But darn it, I made a video anyhow.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Blog = Book?

Wow. This is just really cool!

I was reading through my blogroll the other day and was taken aback when Nicki at Borderblog mentioned that she prints her blog into book form each year for her grandmother (what a neat idea!). I had never heard of such a thing before and she was kind enough to tell me where she does it (you have to download the BookSmart software from Blurb.com).

I always figured that this blog was the ultimate reference to the time Secret & I have spent together, but even I have to admit it is sometimes tedious to try to go back and read things chronologically. To have it in book form at my fingertips just seemed like a really awesome idea.

So I did it! I spent HOURS on the silly thing, but I think it will be worth it. It didn't help that I went through and did the entire thing once and let the BookSmart software put everything together for me. I had to rearrange the photos and fix a few things, but I wasn't able to get the posts to flow together nicely and the spacing was very wonky. It was 150 pages and in my rush to get it done I uploaded it for ordering. Before I actually ordered it, Nicki made a comment about taking stuff out and doing some other editing to make it shorter, so I decided to scrap the first copy and see what I could do if I put it together manually, page by page.

Um, yeah.... I ended up with a 152 page book, but I am tickled with how it turned out. I used a different photo layout on all the pages and it really seems to flow nicely. I can't wait to get it -- some time in the beginning of December, I opted for the cheapest shipping. Plus I found a coupon code online to save 20%! So my monstrosity of a book was something like $52. Merry Christmas to me.

I lumped year one (adoption day to the end of December 2010) into the first book. I figure I'll do a new one at the end of this year for "Volume 2." :o) Imagine, some day I'll be reading about my book IN my book. lol Totally random... I expect Volume 2 is going to be longer, though...

So if anyone else thinks this is a great idea, just head on over to blurb and get started. It's a fun little project and a really neat keepsake! I'll have to take a picture of Secret with "her book" when it arrives.

We haven't done any training lately, so no real updates there. Just lots of frisbee and chuck-it! Secret thinks it's pretty great.

Thanksgiving is just two days away, but I'll be working all four days of the holiday weekend at the shelter. The dogs will probably revolt by Saturday.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Secret disagrees

Secret disagrees with my last post about winter. Secret thinks winter rocks. We might not have snow on the ground just yet (YAY), but my failure to bring in the outdoor water bucket has resulted in great toys provided by Mother Nature. It's like an ice frisbee or something!

video

Once the snow does arrive (take your time, please!), then I have to start watching Luke. He eats it in massive amounts, resulting in having to pee every 1.5-2 hours. Yeah, that's fun!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What is winter good for?

Cuddles. That is ALL winter is good for in my book. I hate snow, I hate cold, I hate ice, I hate having about 30 minutes of daylight in which to do anything productive, I hate shoveling, I hate scraping windows and I hate frozen fingers & toes. But I love puppy cuddles. :o)

Something about the cold weather makes all of my dogs more cuddly. Oh who am I kidding, they are just body heat leaches, that's all. I don't care, I'll still take it.

Look! I trained last night! Despite being completely wiped out from a head cold and having my brain leak from my nose like a faucet, I managed to actually set equipment in the yard in an actual pattern of sorts. The entire set-up was for Luke's benefit, so that we could work on more bonus line skills -- Namely, the things we -- strike that, I -- failed at on Saturday. Namely, driving away from me at both the weaves and the line of jumps coming out of a curve. He rocked, of course. It's always easier at home.

And Kaiser ran his dog walk beautifully with no tunnel! Wheee! Just thought that was worth mentioning. ;o) Now why won't the little turd do that at a trial...

Goals for Secret were basically just to run happy & fast and to work on driving forward without me. Because I more or less just didn't feel like setting bars, she got to run everything at 8" last night. The Woolie Tug was our reward toy for the night.

I really couldn't have been happier with our training session. I expected her to be a bit deflated since my own energy was so pathetic, but she decided to go on without me and have a grand old time.

High points included being able to send out to the jumps on the right while staying behind that first jump. I also stayed well behind the exit of the dog walk to send out to the hoops and recall into the weaves (only once being blown off on the turn to take the top jump, but only because she was flying, so who can be upset about that?). I really haven't done much, if any, call into the weaves work with her, so I was happy that she had no issues finding her entry that way.

And finally, she was SPEEDY in the weaves! I wish I could peg down what makes her speedy one night and slow the next. Perhaps she's still just feeling great from her chiro adjustment and she's just slow when something is out of alignment. Whatever the case, it was nice to see. I worked on proofing by wiggling and dragging her Woolie in front of her as she weaved. This really got her going and only made her pop once, so good baby dog.

I kept our session pretty short and brought out her frisbee as a final reward and to help to wear her out a bit more before going in the house for the night.

Still no snow in the forecast.... So I'm keeping the equipment out a bit longer. Looks like we are good through Thanksgiving at least. I'm hoping for a snowless December, personally. :o)

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Streak Continues

Happy Secret was back this weekend! Yay!! In our solo day of trialing on Saturday, Secret managed another perfect day, running 5/5. But wait, you say -- Isn't she in Elite Chances now? Why yes! Yes she is! :o) I was dumbfounded that she managed to get another Elite Chances Q! Yay baby dog!

I can't help but believe that the trip to the chiropractor on Wednesday played a large part in the return of Happy Secret. I feel so bad for her when we go in and find out that she's completely out of whack. And following all the activity, weaving & jumping required of her at Champs, it's not out of the question to believe she was messed up by the time the trial the following weekend rolled around. So yes, I think we'll have to keep up with the pre-trial adjustment schedule. Yay... Another thing to budget in to trial costs. Oh well, been there/done that with Luke. We'll figure it out.

I really limited the activity for all the dogs in the days before the trial. I figured it couldn't hurt, and as I'd hoped, Secret came out just raring to go in the first round of Regular. Even her weaves weren't half bad, although she still wasn't driving through them and thus had some double-stepping action. Oh well, we'll continue to address that. The rest of the course was really nice, though.

Considering she started the last trial in a similar fashion, I wasn't about to take anything for granted. I'd be lying if I said I didn't worry that she'd come out and crash in round 2 again, especially since there were only four dogs between Luke and her and she typically needs a bit more prep time to get "up" before her runs.

But no worries, she was still a happy girl in round two! She was nicely forward throughout the run and even turned on the speed in the home stretch to double-stride the last line. Whee! Go Secret!

I finally manged to not run the wrong course in Touch-n-Go, so we got our first Elite Q there at last. Luke doesn't run TNG anymore, so I had plenty of time to spend with Secret prior to that run. Unfortunately we got to the line and then got held up for quite a bit of tunnel fluffing. Secret + Wait = Shut down. All things considered she still had a nice round, but I felt like I was back to pulling her around that course a bit more again. She was well under time, though (like 10 seconds), so no worries.

Chances wasn't a wickedly difficult course, but it did require keeping the dog out for two separate sends while layering. Secret came out of the tunnel at a trot and I thought, "Oh crap, there that goes," because I didn't figure I could keep her out without impulsion. Once she figured out where I wanted her to go (through a hoop and into the next tunnel) she sped up again -- And then again looked at me questioningly when she came out. Again the light bulb turned on for her and she finished the course very well. That was some big distance for the baby dog, so I'm very proud of her! To think, only one Q away from her Elite Chances title already! Oh man, we have to get on the rest of those Versatility Q's. lol

Jumpers was the last run of the day. Unfortunately for us the bar setter was sitting RIGHT NEXT to where I needed to line Secret up for the first jump. And it was a man. Oh, that's nice. I briefly thought of asking him to move, but I figured she needs to get over it (after all, she's done great with the judge issues!). So the Jumpers run wasn't as speedy as I would hope, but she got over her issues and seemed to speed up a bit as we went along.

Oh! I just figured out YPS for that run and it was 5.53, so I guess it wasn't as bad as I thought. lol

Thanks to a wonderful group of friends, I managed to get every run recorded at this trial! Yay! Here is Secret's video:



I had high hopes for Kaiser because we went to open agility at FDC on Wednesday and he had really, really lovely dog walks over & over again. Sigh. We're still struggling at trials (and to be honest, there were more issues than just the dog walk!). BUT -- he got Chances, so I don't really care about the rest! Ha! Finally a Chances course without a dog walk.... I swear the last six times (at least!) that we've ran Chances it has had a dog walk and it was starting to get pretty demotivating. Now we just need seven more courses without dog walks to finish his NATCH. :o)

Kaiser also finished his O-WV-E title. He loves Weavers, but I've been keeping him out of it because he's so far behind in his TNG points. Secret won the Q raffle at the last trial, though, and I figured Kaiser was the only one capable of running six classes, so he got to run Weavers. At least it gave him his second Q of the day!



And finally, Luke. We have just really clicked as a team lately and we're having loads of fun together. I ran with him in the first round of Regular because I didn't think that the "out tunnel" under the dog walk was going to be doable for us (amongst the other challenges!). I did go for the bonus line in Round 2 but started poorly and caused a spin almost right away. You only get bonuses if your dog completes the course entirely in flow so we lost it there, but I kept going for the practice. I wasn't able to keep him driving through the weaves this time and he popped right away, so I opted to step in to save the run at that point (since it didn't have any faults yet). I handled the last half of the course from half-way up the ring.

We're on a roll with the Chances Q's again and Luke handily got this course (although that a-frame contact was kind of naughty....). Just two more until his NATCH 3, so I'm hoping we can finish it off at the next La Crosse trial, we shall see!

I went for the bonus line again in Jumpers. It was a very doable course. The only challenge I really saw was going to be driving him up and away from me for the last part of the course. My timing caused a dropped bar just prior to that, though, then he dropped another bar and spun back at me before going on to finish the course. But hey, two bars and a spin? I'll take that! Some day, some day....



Next trial is December 10 & 11. The snow is gone again and I haven't brought in the equipment yet, so I figure I should still try to get some training in before that happens!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Dear Winter: Go Away

If memory serves correctly, winter does not officially begin until December 21. So what's with all this white crap on the ground (and on my dog walk....)? Blah.

I suppose I'll have to concede and move everything into the garage sooner or later. Because I'm so stubborn (who, me?) I tend to let everything sit outside and get snowed on about three times before I get around to putting it away for the year. The year before last, however, we got a big ice storm and my jumps ended up getting frozen in place for the entire winter! Because of that, I made sure to get everything moved inside earlier last year. Plus I have my matted basement now, so I can just start to move stuff down there before it gets stuck outside.

We didn't get hit too badly. With temperatures going between 35-40 all day, nothing was really sticking. Snowfall totals were hard to determine since so much was melting as soon as it hit. My yard ended up with a frozen crust more than anything. I was pretty thankful as we drove to the chiro appointment yesterday, though, because as we got up onto the ridge it was a different picture. Holy heck, they got nailed! Easily a good 5" of snow in spots and everything was covered. People were out with snow blowers already, even. I'd have been pretty miserable if it were that bad at my house.... I'm just not ready for winter yet.

Secret's chiropractor visit went well! What is this, her third visit to Dr. Engel now? Even Dr. Engel remarked that she seems so much calmer & happier in the clinic than at her initial visit. She was all wiggly and vocal when she recognized one of the technicians as we walked in the door. When we got into the room she more or less settled and plopped on the floor to wait.

Perhaps she just realizes that our visits to this clinic make her feel better. She was still unsure when the tech went to put her into position so I helped with that, but there was really no resistance when Dr. Engel started to work on her.

As usual, Secret was a mess in her middle/lower back. She also had a couple of ribs out of place, which I don't think has been an issue for her previously. It is always amazing to see the change in her as Dr. Engel works up her spine. By the end of the appointment (which really doesn't take long at all) the flinching is completely gone.

I felt a bit of heat in her back as I was massaging her this morning, so I iced it for a bit. I should probably do that a few more times before this weekend, I suppose. Poor Secret, I think she's just going to be one of those dogs who is going to always need maintenance in this department.

With all the maintenance struggles that come with big dogs in sporting events (agility/disc/etc.), it certainly does make my desire to have a Papillon as my next agility dog even more appealing. :o)
Just a little doggy porn there.... ;o) I want his babies! I talked to Roger about it at the last trial (Roger was judge, he owns Primo) and it sounds like it could actually be a possibility.... It just comes down to timing. As in, I can't really have four dogs right now. Oh well. Some day!

Primo is a Moso son -- Moso has sired more Champion Papillons than any dog in history, so it would be pretty awesome to have a part of that.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

She loves it/She loves it not

Secret continues to be as fickle as the Wisconsin weather. Honestly this is not news to me and I should know better by now, but I still have a tendency to ask for too much at times. Secret's definition of "too much" is nowhere near the boys' opinion on this subject, which is why I feel I continue to struggle with accepting this....

On Friday I rifled through a few of my latest issues of Clean Run to pick out a Backyard Dogs exercise. I was so busy with "Champs training" in the later part of summer that I completely let these fall by the wayside. Which is a shame, considering that soon I'll be back to being forced to just look at them each month and go, "Oh, that's nice, maybe we can set that up in the spring when all the stupid SNOW is gone."

I enjoy many of the Backyard Dog drills because they push me out of my comfort zone (ie: NADAC) and make me actually work on handling exercises that I don't set on my own. And since I haven't attended classes in a coon's age, it's nice to have someone else create my "lesson plan."

I always start with the first exercises and build up from there, as they always tend to increase in difficulty. The first exercise or two tend to be good warm-ups.

On Friday I set the course and then memorized the first three drills. My brain is not capable of retaining any more than that -- And to be honest, that was freaking hard!

Secret did very well with exercises 1 & 2. The 270 from 2-3 was very demotivating for her in the third exercise, so it looks like we could use work on that sort of thing. We also have pretty much no collection cue to speak of because she would shoot exceptionally wide after 7 each time. But she was a happy girl and enjoyed our session -- all working for the Wooly Tug.

After working all three dogs through the first three exercises, I somehow managed to memorize the next three.

Was my mistake using the same toy for the second session? Or was my mistake trying to do a second session at all with Secret? Whatever the case, she was just BLAH on take two. After the first lackluster attempt at 16", I conceded and put all the jumps down to 8", figuring it was more about working the handling anyhow. This helped, in that she was at least willing to lope through the motions with me, but it was still pretty sad.

It very much reminded me of what happened at the last trial, where she came out all gang-busters for the first run and then just plopped after that. I know that she is not a fan of drilling or excessively long training sessions, but the girl has to get used to the fact that sometimes we need to keep our working caps on for longer than one run.

I'm fairly certain the only reason I'm letting this get to me is because we have five runs at the trial this Saturday. After that happened on Friday I was kind of like, "Oh crap," but whatever -- We'll see what happens. Girl needs some work ethic. That doesn't involve a frisbee.

I pulled the above Chances course off the Going the Distance blog the other day. I thought it looked like fun and it didn't have an a-frame, so bonus for me (my "repaired" a-frame is in my garage waiting to be painted, which more than likely isn't going to happen until spring now!).

I figured last night was my only opportunity to actually do any training this week. I'm at the shelter tonight and since it is now dark at 5 p.m. (SOB) we can't do anything when I get home. Wednesday I am schlepping Secret & Luke to the chiropractor (so maybe that will help Secret feel more like playing) and then taking Kaiser to some run throughs at FDC to hopefully get the little turd to make the connection that he needs to run that dog walk like he does the one at home. In an attempt to have Secret as loony as possible on Saturday, I figure I'll impose a limited activity rule on her between the VSM appointment and the trial, which means Thursday & Friday should be loads of fun....

This was a nice course to play with. As always, I was lacking a tunnel so I did my best to approximate the final challenge by placing two hoops next to the finish tunnel. I know most dogs are going to choose a tunnel over hoops, so I made it as challenging as possible by having the hoops touching the tunnel bags. It still was likely easier than the original test, though, because nobody ever even looked at the hoops last night.

It was a good exercise for Secret since she had to be somewhat independent in her weaves. I stayed back further than required to test her on this. The first time she came out of the weaves and turned back at me without going to the jump -- Kind of like, "Hey, I did it, give me my reward."

After that she was pretty much a rock star. She ran the course clean several times, only once going from 8 to 10 and skipping jump 9 because I didn't support her line at all. She handled the Elite distance line with ease, so her comfort level with working away from me continues to increase at an alarming rate! In an effort to push both of us, I expanded on the original line and attempted to handle everything in the second half from to the left of jump 7. She had no problem with this, so I called it good and let her "nom-nom" on a Kong Squeaker ball while I changed the jump heights for Kaiser.

It is worth mentioning that Secret creamed the boys on this course. Both Kaiser and Luke (???) had issues with the flip out to the tunnel from 10 to 11. Say what?? That's like one of the easiest switches ever. Turns out I was late with my timing, but since when do they need to know that information two obstacles in advance? lol

Nobody got pushed for a second session last night because of the aforementioned darkness that crept upon us by 5:00. Lexie was over for a few hours and I figured since she turned a year old in September, it was time to actually start to get a bit more serious with her training. I moved her "up" to 4" jumps (from hoops), which I find amusing since this will likely be her competition jump height. She has such wee little legs, but they run so fast! She can be a spoiled pain in the rear at times (my parents have like no boundaries for her) but she is a fast & driven little stinker who seems to enjoy working. I like that attitude!

We knew the day was coming, but I was hoping it wouldn't be for a few more weeks. There is $n*w in the forecast for tonight and tomorrow. Anywhere from 1"-6" -- I love ambiguous weather forecasts. I don't anticipate it will stick and thus I haven't bothered to take in my dog walk yet, but I'm still grumbling. I would just like it to be done by the time I have to do all my driving tomorrow -- I'm crazy enough to be driving all the way to Viroqua for the chiro appointment and then all the way to La Crosse for Kaiser's run-through --- I most certainly don't care to put on that many miles driving in the first snowfall of the year....

Stupid snow.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Choo-Choo!

Okay, confession time. I am a really bad dog mom. I let Secret do something that is probably kind of naughty. I let her -- Nay, I encourage her -- to chase trains.

She started this little habit a few months ago. You may recall that Secret is actually afraid of trains that are standing still (because this means they might start to move and make scary clanging & banging noises). But trains that are moving at full speed? Oh yes, these are quite fun. Amtrak trains are the best ever.

Like I said, I know this is wrong and judging by the fact that she now chases them a good quarter mile instead of a few hundred yards, I may have let it get out of hand. But something about her determined look that tells me she thinks she can beat a train going 50 mph just brings a smile to my face. And she tries, oh yes she tries very hard. Who knew she could go so fast?

The pictures illustrate the scenario. Trains come up alongside us on the trail and she races them down the trail, separated by a good 70 yards or so of ditch. So you see, it's not as though she is in any peril or whatnot, but it's still an obsessive behavior -- Granted, her only one, which is pretty good for a border collie. :o)

Oddly enough, we are only interested in trains traveling the same direction as us. If they are going the opposite way we just stand and stare at them with transfixed wonderment.

Yes, she's an odd one. Thankfully she always comes running back with a giant smile on her face ("Did you see how fast I ran? I almost beat that one!") and I figure that extra half mile on top of the usual walk does her good. lol She was just a squirrely girl today! I think someone is enjoying the cooler fall weather.

Regardless of the lovely temperatures that would be completely perfect for all types of training, I find myself falling into the usual rut that comes with dwindling daylight each year. With limited time, I tend to look for what can be set the fastest and I completely lose all creativity and enthusiasm in coming up with training exercises or courses.

This is not the worst thing in the world coming off a huge event like Champs. I'm quite sure we all need a bit of a break and we put in quite a bit of effort leading up to everything. But living where I do and having such limited training opportunities in the winter months, I can't help but feel like the clock is ticking and that I should be cramming as much training as possible into these few remaining weeks.

Late last week I did some work with driving ahead independently through the weaves using the Chuck-it. Secret was not really into this. I'm fairly certain she would benefit greatly from a trip to the chiro, so I have to get that done soon. Maybe we'd just played with the Chuck-it too many days in a row, though, because she was a much happier camper when I traded it out for the Jolly Ball. Granted, by that point I was just focusing on speed through the weaves and had completely abandoned the distance/send component, so who knows which was more of a contributing factor.

Last night I was working Kaiser's dog walk and decided to go ahead and set something up for the other two using that. The lack of sunlight has sapped my brain dry and I ended up setting an exercise that was more or less identical to the one I posted last week, only without a tunnel and using the dog walk as the forward send.

While remarkably similar to the previous exercise, it actually offered us new challenges that were good for us. Secret can always use more work on driving to the end of the dog walk, especially while I am working from a distance.

She may have been driving a little too much, as a few times she didn't really feel the need to stop. Several times she did stop nicely, though, and still was able to send out to the far hoops after. Secret is becoming a layering queen and responded very well to the "back" cue -- and with no tunnel this time, I think she did great.

Fearing that I was falling onto using the balls and whatnot as a crutch in distance work, I decided to pull out the Woolie Dog tug for everything last night. This has the added benefit (?) of being able to be stuffed down the back of my pants (lol), allowing me to have my hands and cue without the distraction of waving a toy in her face. I'm always happy when I get awesome speed & enthusiasm without a visible toy, too, so overall I think she did grand.

So now that we are fast & happy again, I need to decide how many classes to enter Secret in at the next NADAC trial next weekend. We are only doing one day, so I am tempted to go for five this time. I think six is still pushing it for her at this point. The fifth class is calling my name because we still don't have a single Elite Touch-n-Go Q -- and it's not Secret's fault at all, since every time we've ran the class I manage to run the wrong course. lol

We still need to finish our Elite Weavers title as well, but I'm not going to get too hot & bothered about that until she shows me our first Elite Chances Q wasn't a total fluke. Secret has ran Elite Weavers twice now, both times competing in the 20+ Proficient class. She made time the first time but was what, like two seconds over on the next attempt? Now that she's running in Skilled under 16" time I don't anticipate an issue, but with her the weave speed really depends on the day. Hence why I just haven't bothered to enter that class until we get that figured out.

I may be a lazy sod lately about our agility training, but we are on a roll with the frisbee. I really wish I had the time to pursue more disc dog stuff. Secret really enjoys it and I think she'd find those competitions a lot of fun. Granted, we still don't play with more than one disc at a time... We should really work on that.