Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Springtime Jump Drills

Oh wait, it's not spring yet! You might think so by the look of my yard, though. :o) Yup, on February 27 I was able to set up a fun little jump drill in my dry, snow-free yard.

It may not last, unfortunately. The weather guessers cannot make up their minds, but it looks like something is coming our way. Originally it was forecast to dump up to a foot of snow on us, but the storm keeps tracking north and now they are saying 0-2" of snow. Hoping it stays to the zero end of the spectrum, but we'll see. Either way it won't last and we'll just end up with more mud again. Yay. Mud.

So with gloomy weather in the near future, I more or less figured I was required to do SOMETHING with the dogs last night. Considering several of my jumps are in the basement (along with my weaves, teeter & table), it doesn't exactly leave a whole lot of options.

Of course I considered bringing the broad jump out again, but ultimately I was lazy. So instead I just brought out a handful of jumps and laid them out randomly.

You know what's nice about training for a venue like USDAA vs. NADAC? You really don't have to worry and futz with spacing and angles at all. lol Just plunk down a jump pretty much anywhere and deal with it. Okay, okay, I jest. Sort of.

I really didn't give a whole lot of thought to the layout other than that I *didn't* want it to be all uniform and "NADAC-y". There were lots of fun things to play around with in this set-up and I'm very happy with how well Secret & Kaiser knocked it out (Luke thought it sucked, which makes me lean further towards not bothering to put him in the Veteran classes, as I just don't know that he would enjoy Masters courses).

We have a very, very weak area that we need to work on, however. Snooker skills. Specifically, going past or between obstacles without taking one. This is a completely foreign concept to both of them, as one of the core aspects of NADAC handling is, "Take whatever is in front of you." So we have homework to do, I guess. Early indications are that this won't be too difficult for Secret, but Kaiser really struggled with the idea last night. His little brain says, "Yes, I'm coming to you, let me take this jump on the way!"

Secret did all of her jump work at 22" and we actually were out there for quite a while and she never quit on me. Woot! Kaiser did all of his exercises at 12" and I didn't really see any jumping issues with him, so that is fantastic. Nonetheless, I'm sure he will be happy to be at 8" again this weekend at the NADAC trial.

Missy got her first tunnel introduction last night. I didn't expect it would be very difficult to get her through one, but she surprised me with just how eager she was with the whole experience. I think it was less than five minutes before she was going through the full 10' tunnel. When it came time to pack it up and put it back in the garage, I couldn't get her OUT of the tunnel! When I picked it up, she tried to jump in it! I think someone likes tunnels.

I'm trying to teach her to roll over and it's not going so well. Maybe you need to teach that before you teach them to spin. lol We'll keep trying. What other fun, easy to teach tricks impress adopters? The people who come into our shelter seem to just love dogs that do tricks and I think it's a bonding experience when a dog will do tricks for them -- so the more I can stuff into Missy the better. I suppose I should try speak next... That's a crowd pleaser.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Three coats of paint later....

If there's one thing I tend to do when making agility equipment, it's that I tend to go a bit overboard on the paint. I think my table has four coats of paint (two primer, two color), so it looks like I'm cutting back. :o)

It took almost a week to actually get it done because I rarely got more than half of it done on any particular day (paint the top, let it dry, turn it over to paint the bottom, let it dry, so on & so forth). But it turned out pretty and should weather the elements well!

I can stripe it this summer if the mood strikes me, but I'm leaving it white for now. My a-frame needs to be painted this spring, so I'll have an abundance of colored paint available. More or less, though, I'm guessing I'll be sick to death of painting after that project and the broad jump will just stay white!
My plan was to use stick in the ground weave poles as the marker poles at the edges of the jump. The ground is still too frozen to get them in more than 1/8" of an inch, though -- go figure! So I had to schlep out a few jump standards, which works just as well as anything else, I suppose.

Daylight is sticking around a bit longer these days, so we were able to have a brief training session when I got home from the shelter last night (last coat of paint was applied before I left in the morning!). I decided to just throw Secret at them and set the spread at 48" straight away without worrying about building her up to anything -- I figured our quicky session when I brought them home was enough for her to understand the concept and I had nothing to worry about.

Secret had already stolen her Jolly Ball out of the garage (naughty girl....), so I went ahead and used that for her little training session. I sent her over the broad jump by itself several times and we had no issues with it, as I expected. I tried to get a picture, but the camera phone doesn't do action shots so well. lol

Since she was having no problem with the jump by itself, I figured it was time to throw it into a little sequence so that she can learn to adjust her striding. We didn't have time for much, so I just brought out two jumps and set them as a 180 before the broad jump. This gave us a few different jump drill options to play with, too. I set the bars at 22".

Secret did great! She seems very happy to do agility these days, which is always nice to see. She did super well with the 22" jumps and had some lovely wraps, push-throughs, back sides, etc. Considering my jump bars are only 36" wide, she really has to think about where she's putting herself to not knock over the standards. Yeah, I made my jumps that narrow on purpose..... ;o) Stupid oversight or not, it never hurts to train on narrow jumps, IMO.

So that's that -- not too exciting, but I never expected her broad jump training to be difficult. I don't anticipate it's something we'll have to spend a ton of time addressing in the future. Hopefully now that she's seen one we will be fine at the next trial. The more I think of it, the more I feel the issue was with me, anyhow. I was so concerned about what she would do at the broad jump that she probably got all nervous because of MY nerves. Now that I know she can and will do it, hopefully I won't sit and worry about it and it will be a non-issue.

Now that we have one to train on, though, it would probably be a good idea to address rear crosses and other handling maneuvers we might need to use at this obstacle at some point or another. I know there have been drills in Clean Run that specifically address this rarely trained obstacle. I will have to go searching to see if I can find them!

Brief Missy update -- I talked to Melissa and sadly, for whatever reason, there has been NO interest in Missy yet. :o( A litter of eight week old puppies recently became available and several applications came in for them. Apparently a couple of people backed out because they felt those puppies (husky/lab/whoknowswhatX) would be too large -- Melissa tried to steer them towards Missy with no luck. Huh. We don't know why she isn't pulling anyone in, but I think I'll start to work on a new video for her to show off what she's learned since she's been with us.

To do that, though, I feel like I need to teach her a few more things. lol Her "tricks" include sit, down, spin & shake (both paws now!) and we're still working on "sit pretty" without so much of a lure. She crates up nicely, she waits until released to eat and to come out of the crate. Considering where she was when she arrived, I realize that's quite a lot -- but it's not very flashy for video. :o) I figure I could probably teach her to do a tunnel pretty quickly (for as food motivated as she is!). Heck, I could probably even get her on a tiny teeter since she doesn't seem scared of anything. Fetch is not in her repertoire yet, so unfortunately we can't have any that fun stuff like I put in Joe's video.

I'll have to start working on something, I guess. Meanwhile my plan is to try like heck to push her off on someone at the NADAC trial this coming weekend. lol I don't have many other options considering we don't have another trial for well over a month and Missy won't have any other exposure!

Speaking of the NADAC trial, I did finally send my entries last week. I decided to run Secret & Kaiser in the four core classes on Saturday & Sunday and then give them two games each on Friday night. Kaiser will do Tunnelers & Touch-n-Go because he is behind on points in those classes. Secret will do Weavers and Touch-n-Go to try to wrap up her Elite Versatility Award. Poor Luke is not running anything Friday night, but I did go ahead and put him in four runs per day at this trial. I was only going to do three (one Regular run each day) to "save money," but then I figured it's just another twenty bucks, so why not just let him play. I think I'm feeling guilty about him not playing in USDAA...

The premium is still not posted for the April USDAA trial at On the Run....

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

It's like Christmas! In February! Without the snow!

Oh wait, we didn't even have snow at Christmas this year, so I guess that doesn't apply. lol

Look what we have already! Yay!! Who has the best dad ever? If you answered, "Me!" you would be correct. :o)

I went and dug through the USDAA web site on Monday to find the specs for the broad jump -- aka: Long jump, but nobody actually calls it that.... It was terribly nice of them to break it down into instructions so simple that even someone like myself could almost figure it out. Note, I did say almost. I dropped out of geometry and stink at math, so this whole business of figuring out measurements and angles is not exactly up my alley.

But my dad rocks at it, so I printed everything out and showed it to him that afternoon. In a matter of seconds he punched out a few numbers and told me how much wood I needed to buy and what I should get (that would be 3 1x8 pine boards if you want to build your very own!). I was going to wait until I went to La Crosse and could hit up Menards, but I was impatient and ended up dumping the dogs at home and running over to All American just up the road from my house. They had what I needed and $16 later I was home with my three boards trying to figure out how I was going to get the dogs to the office with me the next day.

We worked it out (although Secret was NOT happy about her co-pilot seat being folded forward to accommodate the lumber). And by 3:30 on Tuesday afternoon we had our very own broad jump! Yay! Someone on Facebook called me "determined" for obtaining our latest "trouble obstacle" so soon after the trial. Well, yeah, that's kind of how I tend to acquire ALL of my agility equipment. lol You buy or build it when you need it! I just hope I don't end up having to go out and buy a competition teeter next....

The wood traveled back home much easier in its nicely nested fashion. I was just planning to set it up for the picture and then stick it down in the basement to be painted, but you KNOW I couldn't just do that. So Secret got a quickie introduction to the broad jump. I started out with the two front planks and then added the third and the fourth. She didn't instantly realize that you are supposed to go over the center and was taking it at a bit of an angle, so I'll likely dig out the old stick in the ground weave poles to use as marker poles (or whatever the poles at the four corners are called). Once I straightened her approach she figured it out well enough, but the poles are there are trials and she needs to get used to them anyhow.

I spread the boards out further than you see in the picture, but I didn't have a tape measure outside with me and I don't believe they got to the regulation distance of 4'. Seriously, 4'! That's a lot! Whatever the spread was that we were working with, though, Secret did not have any problem with so I don't anticipate any problems.

The yard is pretty wet & sloppy right now so we didn't go overboard with our little play/training session. The new jump got christened with plenty of little mud droplets, but that will soon be covered by paint! I figured I can get them all primed up in the basement over the next few days -- I don't know if I'm talented enough to properly stripe them, so they may just stay white. We'll see. :o)

I wish the weather would make up its mind already. It kind of stinks to keep having periods of rain or snow that melts right away that keeps the yard boggy. Oh well, we have plenty of time before the next USDAA trial -- speaking of which, the premium still isn't posted for the trial at On the Run. I am such an impatient person.... Not that I would send it in right away or anything, but I keep checking daily regardless!

I do need to get entries sent in for the next NADAC trial in La Crosse, though. The closing date is Monday and the trial is next weekend. I think I'm going to stick Secret in Weavers and Touch-n-Go to get the last Q's she needs for her Elite Versatility so we can at least get that out of the way. Then of course we'll all cross our fingers for Chances Q's! Secret still needs 9 and Kaiser needs... Four? So close!

Monday, February 20, 2012

First USDAA Trial! aka: What is THAT???

Well, the big day finally arrived! On Saturday I packed up the crew -- minus Luke :o( -- and went to our first USDAA trial. Cannon Falls is two hours away, which is pretty darn swell for an away trial, really. We left home at 4:45 a.m. to allow for plenty of time to set up crates, get measured and get acclimated to everything.

Unfortunately, when you arrive at the trial THAT early you tend to have a problem finding anyone you actually know... The rings weren't labeled as to which was which and I failed to notice the crating area at the far end down by the ring which ended up being ours. As a result, I ended up crating next to the Masters ring. Even worse, I crated right next to the entrance/exit of the Masters ring. This meant that I had to wade through a sea of people to get from my ring to my crates AND it meant that Secret barked like a crazed fool whenever she saw a dog playing/tugging in front of her crate. Umm, it's USDAA. Do you realize how many dogs tug frantically at USDAA? Yeah. Thank goodness I had an extra blanket along and was able to completely shield her view, which did help.

I worried about how far from our ring we were considering how few dogs were between Kaiser & Secret, but it ended up being a non-issue. And really, the walk from the crates to the ring was probably a good warm up for them.

The P1 dogs were up first in Gamblers. Kaiser was the first dog on the line. I'm not so sure I chose the best opening for him, as the line from the start jump to the tire was not exactly pretty, which resulted in him going around the tire and straight to the a-frame. I sent him to the tunnel and then ran to get ahead on the dog walk -- he didn't stop, but he did get his contacts. We went from the dog walk to the weaves, followed by the jump and the teeter. Kaiser had the most spectacular fly off on the teeter.... Unfortunately the buzzer went off when he was in the tunnel after that so we didn't get a chance to try to fix the teeter. He sent out easily to the chute but I failed to notice that nobody switched the double out after the course walk before we started our run... And apparently this took Kaiser by surprise as well, as he knocked it pretty hard, and then went wide and didn't get the last jump in the joker. He seemed more stressed in this run than I've seen him in a long time -- but I'm sure it was all because he was reading my own nerves.

Secret was a good girl! I changed my plan with her and opted to start with the dog walk instead. So many good things to note about this run! Secret didn't freak out at the judge (who RUNS along with us for the contacts)! She didn't seem to notice the smaller tire at all. I didn't bother with the weaves for Secret (figuring that's a time waster for her and we *needed* to try the teeter). Our plan went a-frame, tire, jump, teeter. And she GOT her teeter! It surprised the holy heck out of her and she had a major, "OMG, what was that?!" look on her face before I sent her into the tunnel. We still had time to kill, so I made the massive error of going back to the teeter for another try. She went on and froze, at which point the buzzer sounded and I let her just bail.

I can't say I had any concern for her getting the gamble, as Secret has never had a problem with the chute before. She loves the chute! Well, not this one. I was running merrily along the gamble line when I realized my dog wasn't with me anymore. Where was she? She stopped cold in the chute and backed out... What? I tried to send her back out to it, but she was having none of it and just sat and barked at me. Great. The buzzer went off and we ran out and finished the last two jumps. She had something like 27 points without the gamble and ended up in 3rd (I don't take ribbons unless they Q...).

P1 Standard was up next, and only Kaiser was entered. Once I was there I did wish I would have entered Secret (same goes for Snooker!), but then again it's probably best to not overload her brain at this point.

Kaiser was just off for this run -- very stressed. He got his dog walk again. I think the slats slowed him down enough to alter his striding, because he still didn't stop for me. Once again I found myself running by myself, though, when Kaiser hit the a-frame and stopped. He was not a fan of the higher a-frame at all. I went back to fetch him and my motion sent him straight back into the tunnel. So much for that. We continued on and then took several tries to actually get our weave entry, but after that we were fine through the table -- and he actually did stay on the table! Yay! We had another fly off on the teeter, although not nearly as bad as the first..... Then finished fine with the last two jumps.

The score person came running after us as we were walking back to the crating area. He explained that the timers had not worked properly during our run and we didn't have a time. The judge was apparently offering us the chance to run again just to post a time. The two faults would stay with us regardless of what happened on that run. What did I want to do?

I hemmed & hawed, trying to determine what the right answer was for my dog. I had carried treats down to the ring with me and did feel that Kaiser was probably sufficiently rewarded for the first effort, so I didn't think it would shut him down to go again. Ultimately, I thought that having another shot on the equipment was incredibly beneficial, so I took it.

I'm so glad I did! The second run was so nice. Kaiser got his dog walk AGAIN (yay!) and this time I made sure to support his effort at the a-frame and he went up on the first try. He nailed his weave entry and made his way smoothly to the table. I took more liberty with his table on this run since I wasn't worried about the fault. I led out to the next jump so that I could be ahead to stop him on the teeter. It worked perfectly and he *finally* stuck his teeter. Yay! Too bad the run didn't count for anything but time, but it was a good time for his class!

After a bit of a break (for the dogs, I was volunteering), Performance Speed Jumping/Steeplechase was up next. It was definitely not a bad course at all and offered many different handling opportunities.

After running past the a-frame at #4 the first time, Kaiser actually went off course between 7 & 8 to start going up the a-frame. Come on, what is up with you little guy? So we were whistled off there, but allowed to continue. He really collected himself at the broad jump, but did it without a problem (granted, it's pretty small for the 12" dogs). He again ran past the a-frame at the end, but I didn't bother to fix it.

I was quite happy with Secret's go at PSJ! We all know how much she *loves* weaves at the start of a course. Add to that, because of the course design and lack of exit gate, the finishing dog is stuck in the ring while the next dog starts the course. If you're lucky, the dog before you will wait until your dog has gone over number three before leaving the ring. If you aren't so lucky, the previous dog & owner will walk right past your dog as you are in the weave poles.... Sigh.

Secret missed her first entry, but went in on the second try. When she missed that entry I prayed that the previous dog would PLEASE stay put in the corner. I had a mini internal panic attack when I realized that was not the case, but THANK THE LORD Secret stayed in her weaves and didn't seem to notice the exiting dog. Not only that, but she weaved fast & happy -- at the start of a course!! And she hopped; she didn't do her dreaded double-stepping that we see so often at trials. One of my friends was wondering at the FDC trial if she was doing that because she didn't want to slip -- and granted, that's not an issue on dirt, so maybe that is part of it.

Secret looked at the judge coming down the a-frame and this might be part of the reason why she was so slow going to the tunnel -- who knows. She was doing nicely.... Right up to the broad jump. Remember how I said she's never seen one before? And how everyone said, "Oh, she'll go over it no problem." Yeah.... Not quite. She slammed on the brakes and gave me a very clear WTF look before she started barking at me. Tried again -- Nope. Tried again -- Nope. One more time -- She sniffed at the planks and gave a little hop to come through the side. I figured there was no point in pushing her more and continued on to finish the course, so we got E'd. Guess I know what I need to build next!

The dogs had another break while Snooker ran. It was a nice course and I wish I would have entered them. It originally had the teeter as #7, but the teeter in the Masters ring broke and they stole the one from Ring 2, so Snooker actually ended up having the a-frame. Darn, that would have worked nicely. Oh well. ;o)

Last up for the day was Jumpers. Kaiser was slow. :o( But he tried hard and stayed on course, just knocking a bar at #14 for an NQ. I think the tight spacing between 13 & 14 took him by surprise. Guess what buddy, it's not NADAC.

Secret really shined on this course. As I always expected, this type of stuff is right up her alley. She was a happy girl when we went in the ring, as she had just been playing with my friend's dog, Tazer. She even lined up with a "peekaboo" at the start line (going between my front legs) which I've never actually had her do in the ring before. Her speed seemed to increase as we went through the course and she put in a lovely run for a Q & 2nd place! It was a great way to end the day -- I so wish I would have had that run on video, but oh well.

There was a lot of great stuff to take from this trial. Secret exceeded my expectations with how well she dealt with the judge in the ring. I'm very happy with how she handled the 22" jumps, too. She had fun and stayed happy -- she did her teeter! She didn't seem bothered by the different contact equipment (slats and higher a-frame).

Obviously there is still a lot we need to work on. I really need to get her on other teeters -- and apparently more chutes as well. Of course, we also need to find a way to train the broad jump... Thankfully the next USDAA trial isn't until the end of April, so we do have quite a bit of time on our side.

Yesterday I set up the chute in the back yard (which is snow free again for the time being). As I expected, we had no problems with it and Secret shot through it for her Jolly ball. I also went down to the basement to assess her teeter, as the last time she was scared by a new teeter she wouldn't even go on mine for months. Phew, no problems there. I even raised ours again to make it more in line with the height we saw at the trial and she was fine with it. That's good, at least we didn't regress this time! Hopefully we will be better prepared for the next trial, as I really would like to enter her in all of the basic classes.

Bottom line -- I really enjoyed our first USDAA experience! Even at the Starters/P1 level, I found the courses to be more interesting than what we have come to see trial after trial in NADAC... I am so ready for change.

Missy did really well at the trial all day! She was quite the popular little puppy when I took her out and about to socialize. The popular opinion of the day is that she is a Border-Staffy. I lost count of how many people offered that thought. What are the odds that she was a purpose-bred dog (for sport) vs. a backyard oops? Not high, but hey, if we can increase her value with the sport folks by calling her a border-staffy, why not go for it? lol There were several people who were just absolutely smitten with her, so we'll see if it manages to go anywhere. I still haven't heard of any bites on her yet. Training continues to go well -- now we are learning to shake!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

What a mess!

Secret was a hot mess at her chiro appointment yesterday. Holy buckets, it's a good thing I got her in before the trial!

If she was dealing with these issues at our trial two weeks ago, she certainly is becoming more stoic. Maybe the Back on Track blanket helps to mask or deal with the discomfort, too, who knows.

I lost count of how many of her ribs were "out." In previous appointments there have been a couple of times when one or two were out of place, but this time I swear Dr. Engel found like five or six!

Secret's lower back/pelvis area was surprisingly decent this time. As with the last visit in early December, her issues this time were located in the mid-back region. That would be right at the 13/14 area on this wonderful diagram:

I have no idea what would cause her to be such a mess in that entire midsection area. I'm sure some of her frisbee leaps can be blamed for the spinal issues, as Dr. Engel was explaining that the majority of flexion occurs in that area -- and with her being such a long-backed dog, well, there are bound to be issues. No idea what to think about the ribs, though. It's not like we've done a phenomenal amount of weaving since our last appointment or anything.

Interestingly, both Dr. Engel and our previous chiro, Dr. Schilling, made it seem like it's pretty uncommon for dogs to have ribs out of place. Really? Luke ALWAYS has issues in that area.

Whatever the case, I'm very tempted to get another small dog (PAPILLON!!!) for my next dog. Small dogs don't have nearly the issues that we see in bigger dogs. I took Kaiser in with Secret simply because he hasn't seen Dr. Engel since before we left for Champs and I figured it wouldn't hurt to have him adjusted before making him go back to 12" jumps. She didn't find much, but she did do some adjusting in that same thoracic area that Secret had her issues. He had clicking in his patella, but that's no surprise!

I don't know if it's puppy neediness that's behind it or what, but Secret has been exceedingly cuddly lately. She was actively seeking out affection from everyone at the clinic yesterday. Dr. Engel remarked on it several times, stating that she remembers when Secret first started coming and how she used to retreat to the corner of the room. Yesterday we could hardly get her out of the way when it was Kaiser's turn and she kept going up to Dr. Engel and her assistant looking for petting -- yes, petting, not even treats! Although she likes those, too. ;o)

She's also been fairly needy at home the last several days. Since I kicked Missy out of my lap (hello, sometimes we need to learn to sleep on our own, puppy!), Secret has taken up residence there. I don't know if she's having some jealousy issues or what, but she's overall been quite a bit more affectionate lately. She will even come up and randomly press herself against me asking for attention. Maybe she read my post about why I like boys more. lol Maybe it's just part of her growing up. It took a long time for the two of us to really form a relationship, but it was worth the work it took to get here.

Missy may not have a fan in Secret, but she seems to have wormed her way in with the boys. Luke is exceptionally tolerant of her and we all know how much Kaiser loves her.

I think we've turned a corner in potty training! Not that we ever really had a difficult time with anything, but I think that the whole idea of, "We pee & poo outside" has clicked with Missy now. I know her schedule and have to be paying attention, but she does let me know when it's time (ie: at work she will go sit in front of the baby gate and look at me) rather than just squatting and going when the mood strikes her. We have also graduated to going outside at home without me standing guard to make sure she goes. Considering what a lazy sod I can be, this is a huge step. :o) The only thing I ever really find displeasing about potty training is having to get dressed and bundled up to go outside with the puppy. And somehow I always tend to end up with puppies in the winter.....

I found a new way to tackle the feeding issue without having to sit and hand feed her meals. Although I'll still do this frequently to give myself a chance to work on training, if I feel like being lazy (like last night and this morning....) it works a treat to dump her kibble into one of the Kongs and let her at it. It slows her down considerably, gives her something to do and doesn't result in a shaking fit. She would be a dog who would LOVE one of the Kong Wobblers that we have at the shelter, I'm sure. I'll definitely bring up the idea to her adopters in the future!

I haven't broken it to Bethany yet, but I do think I have to bring Missy to the trial on Saturday. She needs the exposure, after all, if we expect her to find a new home! If nothing else, though, there is a woman who comes to our NADAC trials who was really eying up Joe when I had him. Assuming Missy is still with us the first weekend in March, I figure I'll spend some time talking with this woman (I am so bad with names....) and see if she might be interested in Missy. Obviously Missy and Joe have nearly nothing in common..... But her other dog is a female, so she obviously doesn't have anything against them (like certain other people...). We'll see. Missy needs to find a home before she's not little and cute anymore. lol I stuck her on the scale here at work the other day and she's already 22 pounds!!!! I don't know how accurate it is, but she was 16 two weeks ago... Puppies grow too fast.

Oh! Speaking of weight -- Secret was only 46.2 lbs when she got weighed at the chiro appointment yesterday. Wow. I would have never expected her to lose weight in the winter. Dr. Engel joked that maybe the Back on Track jacket made her sweat the weight off. lol Truthfully, I had been cutting her back a bit because I was concerned about Secret GAINING weight this winter. Guess that is not a concern. She is fit & thin, but there is certainly such a thing as too skinny and I do need to be careful not to go too far in my obsession to have thin dogs. Kaiser was 16.7 pounds, so he is maintaining his light weight nicely this winter -- no doubt thanks to the fact that no training = no treats.

Fourty-seven hours from now we will be on the line at the USDAA trial. :o) Sweet.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Four days away!

Secret's (and Kaiser's!) USDAA debut is just four days away! I find it interesting that I'm starting to get butterflies about the whole experience. I've been doing agility for six years now -- what's the big deal? I think it's because I've been wanting to try something new for so long now, but it took me forever to actually branch away from NADAC. It's hardly even a new crowd of people, as I know many of them from NADAC (either they show in both venues or they used to show in NADAC years ago). I know even more from YouTube and Facebook. :o)

The show catalog was in my inbox this morning, which totally upped the excitement level!

I think it's wicked cool to have the run order in advance. Don't ask me why, but I'm sure it all has to do with my overly anal planning side.

The P1 classes aren't very big, so unfortunately I only have seven dogs between Kaiser & Secret. Hopefully the crating area isn't miles away from the ring.

I was super surprised to see my NADAC friends, Jim & Gina, on the run sheet with their young dogs. Jim is a NADAC judge and they run a club that hosts a couple NADAC trials per year (and a CPE or two now, I think). I wonder if they are jumping ship for the same reasons as me? I also wonder if maybe MMBC might look into adding a USDAA trial to their calendar now. There really aren't a ton of USDAA trials in this area, which makes it hard for me to ever leave NADAC entirely.

Speaking of NADAC -- The Top 10 of 2011 lists were recently published. I was very proud of Luke for being the #3 20+ Mixed Breed dog in Chances! That's pretty awesome! He also made the list in Regular & Weavers. It's his first year not making the list in Tunnelers, which is sad, but that's what happens when you don't run it anymore. He also didn't make it in Jumpers, which goes along with all of our bonus attempts. Kaiser got honorable mention for being the only Klee Kai, but he earned enough points to make every class except for Hoopers (he's not even out of Open since we don't run that class). Yay, Kaiser! Secret, running only the later part of the year in Elite, did not make the list amongst the super tough field of border collies.

I haven't heard of any bites on Missy yet. One of my local friends saw her video on my Facebook page an expressed interest. I called him up and talked to him -- We talked about getting together so that he & his girlfriend could meet Missy, but I never heard back. That's a bummer. Bethany has watched Missy several times now while I've worked at the shelter. Bethany would keep her if she could, but I don't think it's the right time. I was planning on taking her to the trial for exposure on Saturday, but now I'm waffling and considering letting Bethany watch her again. I should probably take her, but I'm already worried about my stress levels in a new environment. lol That said, I'm going to have a LOT of down time at the trial.

I have more or less solidified that I need a boy for my next dog. I'm just not a girl person. I'll never say never -- I could certainly own another girl in my future, but the next dog I own really needs to be a boy. Missy is a great dog, but I just have zero bond or attachment towards her. It's hard to explain. I mean, I loved Joe from the very first night. I just clicked with him. He could do no wrong. Missy is SUCH a girl. She's independent, she's feisty, she's rebellious.... Some people love that stuff, but I've learned that I love what is more common with boys -- Adoration, rapt attention, goofiness....

That said, Missy has come *so far* in the last week. She is doing great with sit & down and recently started to add "spin" to her skill set. We are also learning about self control and waiting until released to come out of the crate. Meal time is still a work in progress. She's still too crazy for food to just let her at it, so we continue to work for meals. She starts to SHAKE at meal time because she gets so worked up about it. The fact that she is controlling herself with that level of excitement says something, I guess. I just wish there was a way to make her calmer about meals. I mean, my dogs get excited, but they don't shake (although Luke would chatter his teeth when his Prednisone dose was too high, lol).

I totally procrastinated and failed to make a chiro appointment for Secret in advance, so I thought for sure I'd be screwed and not get her in before this trial. Thankfully they are able to fit us in tomorrow afternoon at 2:30!! Phew. She hasn't been adjusted since early December and I really want her tip-top for her first time jumping 22" at a trial. Hopefully the judge being in the ring with us doesn't send her into back spasms from nerves. ;o) Gah! I just have no idea what to expect..... I'm sure that's why I have butterflies more than anything. I'm excited for Kaiser, but I do worry about Secret. Suppose I'll have to try not to let her on to that.

I hope I somehow manage to get video. Odds are higher for Secret, but I'll be lucky to get anything of Kaiser. My friend, Rich, is running in Ring 1 with his dogs at the same time as Kaiser & Secret in Ring 2 for Gamblers. Then in Performance Speed Jumping Kaiser is RIGHT after Rich's dog Tazer. Well crap. Oh we'll we'll figure something out. MUST HAVE VIDEO of our USDAA debut!!!!

Friday, February 10, 2012

She's Official!

Exciting stuff came in the mail yesterday -- No, not any of our NADAC awards. I've pretty much given up on those ever arriving. It was Secret's permanent USDAA card already! That was fast!

Because she measures into the 26" class, there are no measurements that need to be done. I think it's silly that they send me the temporary card just to make me send it directly back to them, but it is what it is. So next weekend when we go to check in at our first USDAA trial, Secret will have a pretty permanent card to show. :o) Poor Kaiser has to be measured. He hates that.

I was surprised to see such a different look from Luke's USDAA card that we got several years ago. This one is much prettier, I must admit. Luke's is bright yellow and not very attractive. I wonder if I can get them to reissue him a new one? lol Nah, probably not important.

This photo is from our last trial at FDC. Let's hope Secret manages to keep her eyes OPEN when the jumps get a little higher. I've seen plenty of photos of dogs with one eye shut in agility, but I'm not sure I've seen both eyes closed. Good heavens, Secret, look where you are going! This was her Jumpers run from Saturday, I believe, which was a good run and a Q. Amazing how she manages to stay on course when she isn't looking where she is going.

One more week! I'm not looking forward to the butt-crack of dawn drive, but we've done it before. The puppy makes it slightly more of a hassle, but Luke will be having a sleepover at "Grandpa & Grandma's" house, so hopefully that helps. Now we just need the weather to cooperate. It would be just my luck to go nearly this whole winter with barely any snow and then we end up having a blizzard next weekend. lol Let's hope not.

Missy continues to do well with her training. Potty training is going well when she's with me (who knows her schedule), but Bethany watched her yesterday while I was working at the shelter and I guess she had several accidents. Puppies are hard work, you know. I think the reason I'm queen of house training is only because we go outside like every 15 minutes if needed (okay, might be an exaggeration, but we go outside a LOT when puppies are in the house). Bethany really hasn't had a puppy before (Rascal was like 9 or 10 months when she got him) and I think she just isn't into the routine yet. But I still very much appreciate her playing puppy-sitter all day! :o)

It came in super handy when it was time for me to come home, too. Yesterday we confirmed two cases of kennel cough at the shelter -- Noooooooo!!!!!! I've never been worried about working with the sick kitties because I have no cats at home to bring anything home to (ringworm is my only heeby-jeeby area, as I did bring this home to Luke once and that sucked). But the idea of bringing kennel cough into my house -- into a house with a puppy and dogs who have a few trials coming up -- almost sent me into a panic. So despite the fact that I was training in the Iso/Q section, I more or less tried to avoid handling the KC dogs as much as possible. We took one to the vet, though, so it was impossible to avoid it.

I called Bethany on my way home and asked if she would mind keeping Missy for an extra half hour or so while I showered. She said it wouldn't be a problem and offered to bring Missy over when I was ready. So that just left my own dogs for me to worry about. I did what I could with my shoes at the shelter -- I walked through the Trifectant foot bath and then sprayed the heck out of the tops of my shoes with Trifectant as well. I don't care about bleaching when it comes to KC germs.... Once I got home I took everything off down to my underwear in the garage. That's right, I was standing there in my skivvies in my 25 degree garage in February. I opened up the door to the outside and then opened the house door and tried to shoo everyone outside without anyone touching me or otherwise greeting me. They thought I'd lost my mind!!!

Once they were outside I grabbed my pile of clothes (including my jacket that I was wearing on the vet run) and threw everything into the wash. I did let the dogs into the house before getting in the shower (because they were standing at the patio door with worried looks on their face because Mom went crazy) but didn't let anyone touch me until I got out.

So, fingers crossed that I didn't bring anything home..... That is the LAST thing we need right now.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

More Missy

I realize this is supposed to be Secret's blog, but poor Secret hasn't gotten to do a gosh darn thing since the puppy arrived -- so this is just another post about Missy!

I had to get some "formal" pictures done for the Border Collie Rescue of MN web site, so I figured I'd share some here. She's quite the photogenic little thing, really. That would be a bonus of choosing the red dog, I suppose. Much easier to get a good picture than with a solid black face. :o)

House training is going as well as you'd expect for an 11 week old puppy --- BTW, did I call her 12 weeks before? Because I actually looked at a calendar today and realized (according to her given DOB, at least) that she just turned 11 weeks old today. She's so wee!! I haven't actually HAD a puppy this young in my adult life before. Go figure.

Anyhow, if I'm not a lazy sod, house training is going very well. Each time there has been an accident it has FULLY been my fault. Yesterday I tried to pull a "hold on just a minute" on her and, well, she couldn't. So we had a wee poo in the house that was totally my fault. Today she woke up from a super long nap in my office and I *knew* she had to go out, but I tried to get everyone dressed and ready to go on a walk before taking her out and of course, we had an accident. Lesson learned -- take the darn puppy out when she needs to go out. I'm sure part of the reason Joe was so easy was because he was quite a bit older. They are pretty easy around 4 months, IMO.

Kaiser still loves the puppy. It still weirds me out a little why he's being so nice to her, but let's hope it keeps up! Pretty sure she will outweigh him in a matter of days with the way she eats. lol

Secret is still mostly ignoring Missy, which is weird because normally she's all over puppies. Secret is also getting mopey and needy, so it's obvious I have to find the time to do SOMETHING with her very soon (tonight is a shelter night, yay....). The yard keeps fluctuating between frozen and sloppy, so it is not good frisbee surface. That leaves basement work, which I suppose just means I need to put the puppy in a crate so that Secret can have some special time.

Melissa asked me to get side shots of Missy for the web site. Do you have ANY idea how hard that is to do when you live by yourself? I figured the easiest thing to do would be to grab my grooming table and try to prop her up on that -- because puppies don't want to fall off, right? Um, puppies don't know about falling.... But it still worked relatively well.

And darn if she isn't the worst built dog on the planet. Looking at her (semi) stacked on the table I actually might believe she's a border collie. ;o) Seriously, I cannot tell you how many people have remarked, "Is she part pit bull? Part bulldog?" *sigh* She does have a blocky face that is only exacerbated by the white, but so do most of the other border collie puppies you see in photos. The nose grows, and so will hers. It will be interesting to see her in several months, I'm sure. Heck, even Joe has changed a lot since finding his new home! (I so love that his new owner keeps in touch on Facebook -- Joe is so handsome!)

We stopped into the vet clinic last night to pick up a bottle of Percorten for Luke (it's on back order -- a life-maintaining drug is on back order -- that is awesome), so I took Missy in to say hi to everyone. I carried her because she's not fully vaccinated yet, but she got lots of attention and enjoyed meeting everyone. Why does everyone think I will keep my fosters? If I didn't keep Joe, I think I'm safe. ;o) I'm learning that some people think it's weird when I say she doesn't fit my color scheme, though. Ha! Come on, I can't be the only one....

Missy was so tired when we got home last night. I tried to get good footage for an adoption video, but didn't come up with much. I didn't even try to do any training exercises because she was so sleepy, so we more or less crashed on the couch last night (sorry Secret...). By the way, I hope whoever ends up adopting Missy doesn't mind snoring. Good heavens, I have never heard anything like it from a dog (who isn't squishy-nosed, at least). The more tired she is, the louder she snores!! One of my requirements of any man in my life (of which there haven't been many, lol) is that I absolutely will NOT put up with snoring. Thankfully the canine variety is more on the cute side vs. highly annoying.

I've been carrying the camera with me all morning and finally managed to get enough clips to mosh together into a video. I used Jet's, "Are you going to be my girl" as the backdrop song -- I thought it was fitting, but I always worry about music choice turning people off. Not everyone likes the "rock" sound, but it worked so well that I went with it. I couldn't top the Lion King music I used for Joe's video, anyhow. lol

Monday, February 6, 2012

Meet Missy!

Missy is here! She arrived via transport Saturday afternoon. My cousin was wonderful enough to meet the transport in Tomah at one of their scheduled stops (the rest of the dogs were continuing on to Minneapolis) to retrieve Missy while I was working at the shelter. Bethany then had the terrible inconvenience of watching the puppy for a few more hours until I got home. ;o) I wasn't sure I was actually going to get to bring her home with me!

I was fully intending to call her something other than Missy. No offense to anyone who has that name or has a fondness for it, but it is probably on my top 10 list for most undesirable dog names. lol I was waffling between Nell & Nessa for this little redhead -- and I actually did start calling her Nessa at first. Ultimately, though, I decided it would just be too darn confusing in the long run. She will be Missy on the web site. All of her paperwork will be in the name Missy. Any potential adopters would be e-mailing for information on Missy. So yes, in the long run it is far easier to just call her Missy, no matter how much I don't happen to like the name. Surely she will not be with us a terribly long time and her new owner can choose whichever name they like! :o)

Missy is fitting in with my crew remarkably well. When Joe arrived, Secret took to him more or less right away. Luke ignored him. Kaiser tried to attack him any time he played or tried to have any fun. Totally not so with Missy. I have no idea how to explain it, but he adores her. It can't be as simple as male vs. female, either, because Kaiser was just horrid to Lexie for the longest time. Whatever the reason, they are terribly cute together. They are almost the same size at the moment (Kaiser is 17 lbs, Missy is 16 lbs), so it is a good fit.

Secret has tried to play with the puppy a few times but I think Missy finds her a little overwhelming at the moment. They will play bow a bit, but then Missy backs off and doesn't act like she wants to play with Secret anymore. Of course, this could be because Secret snapped at her the first night and sliced a small spot right above her nose (which caused a super fun episode of sneezing, which sent blood spatters everywhere -- so fun to clean!). Secret was trying to keep Missy from following me into the bedroom and I let her know in no uncertain terms that this is not for her to decide. She has done a few lip curls at the puppy around toys, but it hasn't gone any further than that.

Missy is a terribly uncoordinated puppy. All I know of her history is that she was found wandering alongside a road. Her vet paperwork has a guestimated birthday of 11/22/11, which puts her right around 12 weeks. She has pretty much no muscle to speak of, so she looks a bit wobbly when she runs sometimes. She is working it out quickly, though, and I've already noticed an improvement in her gait. I'm the sort of overly anal person that would completely have a meltdown if this was a puppy I'd bought as a performance prospect, but since she's a foster the rational side of me is kicking in and knows this is just an awkward puppy stage.

Missy seems like a pretty bright little thing. Sit comes quite naturally to her and she offers it when presented with a treat. We haven't had a chance to work on anything else yet, but imagine my surprise when I was fixing up dinner dishes yesterday and she popped into a perfect, "Sit Pretty" all on her own. The only other dog I've ever known to do that completely unprovoked was my family's Scottish Terrier years and years ago.

She does very well in a crate, which is always nice! She rides nicely in the car, goes right into the crate in the living room to eat her meals and deals with bed time without any fuss. We've gotten up once each night so far, but that's just because I wake up and figure it wouldn't hurt to take her out (ie: she's not waking up and asking to go out). She seems to have done quite well while I was working yesterday, although thanks to Bethany & my parents she only had to go three hours between potty breaks. I wasn't sure how fair it would be to have her go 5 hours, so that worked out quite well.

The only real negatives I've spotted so far would be a total lack of bite inhibition (ouch!!) and the fact that she is pretty intense with her food. We are working on both of these things!

Missy isn't on the Border Collie Rescue of MN web site yet -- and likely won't be until I manage to get video and pictures put together -- but if you or anyone you know might be interested in adopting this little ginger dog, be sure to drop them a line! :o) I haven't gotten a chance to really evaluate her just yet, but early inklings say that she is going to be everything you would expect from a red girl. lol

I leave you with video from Missy's first walk today! It was pretty entertaining, I wish I could have captured some of the funnier bits.

Friday, February 3, 2012

It's like 4 exercises in 1!

As someone who has trained on my own for several years now, I am always on the lookout for new things to do with the dogs. Clean Run has always been invaluable (which reminds me, perhaps I should actually reactivate my subscription that just lapsed.... -- I have less motivation to do so in the winter when I can't set any of the drills). The other wonderful source in my life is YouTube.

I believe it was on Rosanne DeMascio's channel ( http://www.youtube.com/user/DKSAgility ) quite a while back that I got the idea for this exercise. She claimed it was good for working on core strength and bending -- I'll throw in that it's super great for collection and basic jump skills as well.

There is no special spacing, at least not in how I set it up. I figured I'd make adjustments as needed, but Secret was a rock star and worked it out. I started her at 10", moved up to 16" and finished at 22". We didn't overdo it as I recall Rosanne saying this was pretty hard work for the dog. I'm super impressed with how much effort Secret put into the exercise -- and she kept her bars up! I was going to use food for this drill, but once again she chose her tuggy. Cool beans.

In addition to the jump drill, we also did more table work, building on the auto-down behavior. Secret can be a goober sometimes. She seems to have it down pat that we get on the table and lay down, but the ways in which she actually goes about getting on the table at times can be interesting. If I just sat and waited for her to offer the behavior (vs. sending her), she would alternate between getting on like a normal dog, backing on with her rear feet first, and going up SIDEWAYS (ie: lifting both legs on the right side of her body and crawling up sideways). Oddball.

I upped the ante on the teeter work, too. I moved the end of the plank over to the concrete so that it would bang louder during our slam session. This did seem to startle Secret at first, but she quickly got over it and continued on with our game. I really hope all of this confidence-building game play crosses over to new teeters. I more or less feel I have to at least give it a try in Gamblers in a couple of weeks -- Speaking of which, I got our initial confirmations e-mailed to me this morning! Yay!!

And it's official! My new foster will be arriving tomorrow. I had the option of the red & white puppy or the black & white puppy (different locations, so they aren't siblings). I chose the red girl for a few reasons -- She looked a little smaller (though pictures are hard to judge!), it looks like her ears are going up (swoon!), and she doesn't fit my color pallet so we don't have to worry about her staying. lol

I learned this morning that her name is Missy. Blargh. I can't call her Missy. I think she looks like a Nell. We shall see. :o)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

She chose TOY over FOOD?

We had a bit of a mind boggling occurrence last night. Since the dawn of man (okay, maybe just since Secret was a puppy), food has always been number one for her. It took me AGES to get her to show any interest whatsoever in toys -- and then even longer for toys to have enough value to be used in agility training. Even once that point was reached, though, I always had to be very careful that she didn't "see" me using treats with anyone else (Kaiser or Rascal), because then she would shut down and not want to play anymore.

I more or less have continued to follow this unspoken rule. I always work Secret before Kaiser, although there have been numerous instances where I have brought her out for a second go-round after putting his food away and she will still work for toys. I have never worked her with toys in the presence of food, though.

Everything is melting here at the moment (yay!), which means the yard is becoming a giant mess (boo!). Because of that, when I got home from the shelter last night I decided to go down to the basement for a training session. Figuring we would do more teeter slamming work (we raised the teeter again!) and perhaps a bit of table shaping, I just grabbed the bag of cheese (trial leftovers!) and went down to do some clicker work with Secret.

Her Woolie Dog tug was laying on the floor from the last time we were playing downstairs. I expected her to ignore it and start mugging me for cheese -- so imagine my surprise when she dove at her tuggy and wanted to play! While I was holding cheese!

I set the open bag of cheese on the floor and played with Secret for a bit. Then, because she has never in her entire life seen a broad jump and will soon be expected to successfully complete one in competition in a mere few weeks, I took three jumps and fashioned them into a makeshift sorta-broad jump. The bag-o-cheese was sitting on the floor right in her path to the jump and she completely ignored it for her toy. Go figure. What a breakthrough!

Now.... If only I could get her to play at a trial. Food is still #1 in that scenario, unfortunately. She will mouth at her leash a bit when I offer it to her, but then she drops it and says, "Where's my food?" Oh well, maybe some day!

On the subject of the broad jump, do you suppose it will bite me in the ass that she's never seen one before? Not really sure what to do about that. My boys have only seen them a handful of times in their life and have never really had an issue, so we'll see. There are uprights on both ends of the broad jump in USDAA, so IMO it's fairly obvious where she is supposed to go. I'm throwing a lot of new stuff at the baby dog at her first USDAA trial, though, so what is one more thing? Contacts with slats, higher a-frame, higher jumps, smaller tire, teeter, broad jump, chute, judge moving around all over the ring.... Good lord, if we get through the day without a meltdown I think that in itself will be huge. lol Hence why the baby dog is only running in three classes!

I wish the 18th would just hurry up and get here already. I am not a patient person.

Oh! Exciting news! I might be getting another foster puppy this weekend. :o) It's in the works, so we'll see!