Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mowing, ticks & teeters

Check it out! I mowed last night for the first time this year -- On March 28!! I haven't found anyone who can recollect ever mowing this early in the year. My neighbor mowed this weekend already, I just didn't have the time. My yard could have been done several days ago judging by how much wet spring grass clumped up in my mower....

I played with my gps on my phone (something I've been using to track our walks lately) and it says I covered 1.32 miles while I mowed! If anything, there's a chance it was more than that because it pauses when it thinks I'm not moving, so who actually knows, but the geek side of me still found that very interesting.

The bad thing about all of this glorious, freakishly untypical-for-Wisconsin-in-March weather is that we are going to have an absolutely horrible year for ticks and other bugs. I actually applied Frontline Plus to the dogs back on March 1 because I knew they'd start popping up at any time. I can't say I'm impressed with Frontline this year, as I've already pulled several ticks off the dogs. I know Frontline doesn't repel ticks whatsoever, but all of these ticks were engorged, so that says it's not doing its job. :o(

Last night was just.... Ewww. We had just gotten into bed and I reached over to pet Secret on the head and felt two lumps on her head. Blech. I got up to turn on the light and sure enough, two ticks -- one was so engorged that it was probably ready to come off on its own shortly (into my bed, yay!). I plucked them and deposited them into our handy "tick jar" (rubbing alcohol) and then dug around to see if I could find any more. I didn't find any ticks, but I did find a lovely mat behind Secret's ear that needed to be cut out. Oops. Hence why I need to stick with total smoothies in the future. lol

This morning I noticed that Secret was acting funny and drooling. Oh, yup -- She pulled another tick off herself. Where did that one come from?? This is going to be the worst year ever for the stupid things. I am so not looking forward to it....

Time for a teeter update!!!

I believe the last time I posted about this was back in January when I started to shape Secret to control the motion of the teeter by touching and bringing down the end of it. This was to increase her confidence with the motion as well as teaching her to be okay with the rebound action of the teeter (something I failed to do when I originally taught her because my teeter wasn't weighted at the time). That post and video can be found here.

I decided to do another video last night after mowing to show how far Secret has come in the last two months. She has progressed to doing her slam for toys and is really enjoying the whole game! We don't usually focus much on entire sessions of slamming -- since the teeter was moved outside I've more or less just had her slam a few times for her ball or frisbee at the end of a play session.

My hope is, of course, that this level of enthusiasm will carry forward to make "other" teeters fun for her as well. I am not concerned whatsoever about speed or technique (such as having a "sliding" teeter), I simply want her to be having fun and in control of the motion. I don't care a bit about her end position -- she could do a four-on if she wanted to, but Secret's default behavior always seems to tend towards the two on, two off, so we go with it.

One thing you may notice in the video is that Secret has a pretty poor (to non-existent) release with her toys. But you know what, that is A-OKAY with me. :o) For as much work as I put into getting her to show *any* interest in toys, I wasn't about to try to squash any of her enthusiasm with releases. It's something I put up with in the interest of keeping her happy. For whatever reason, prying her mouth open at times seems to just jazz her up more. Ha! I'm such a good trainer, I know. *wink*

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Weather Weenie

As I've tried to nail down my proposed trial schedule for the coming months, it is becoming very obvious that I have become a weather weenie. Our very out of character and downright strange weather patterns this year don't really help (note Secret trying not to blow away on our walk in today's pictures). It's so very hard to predict what this year will be like and as a result, I find myself taking this into consideration more than usual.

It used to be that outdoor trials were commonplace. If you wanted to do agility, you did it outdoors and you took your chances. Very rarely do trials get canceled on account of weather and you never get your money back if it rains -- so you either run in poor weather (be it hot, cold, snow or rain) or you stay home and forfeit your entries. I've always been in awe of people who can just scratch a whole day or weekend at a trial. I had to pull Luke from the second day of a trial in 2009 due to a recurrent lameness that popped back up and I about cried. Maybe I did.... I think I would throw up if I threw away entries for three dogs.

Because people in the upper midwest appreciate the ability to trial our dogs more than four months of the year, more and more indoor facilities have started to pop up. Before you knew it, trialing indoors became more commonplace than outdoors! We now have agility trials twelve months of the year -- you can pick your organization and trial every single weekend if you are independently wealthy and wish to do that sort of thing (still waiting for my sugar daddy, by the way!). It has gotten to the point where outdoor trials are almost a novelty.

I love how my dogs run outside. We obviously train outdoors on grass at my house, so it is their preferred surface on which to run. I know my dogs run cautiously on synthetic surfaces (like the turf at FDC) and I hate seeing them slip.

So why do I find myself gravitating towards all of the indoor trials at my disposal? Because I am a giant weather weenie, that's why. I love running agility outside when it's 60-70 degrees with clear skies. I'm not so fond of rain, wind or high heat & humidity. I get grouchy when I'm not comfortable and I figure that's not fair to my dogs. And ultimately, when I fork out $200-300 for a day or weekend, I would really prefer that the odds be in my favor for being able to run my dogs to the best of our abilities.

I have to put in my time off requests at the shelter very shortly, so I need to decide for sure what I'm doing. There are several USDAA trials in MN this summer that are outdoors --- I know quite a few people who go to these trials and always enjoy seeing them. My other option, though, is a facility over in New Berlin, WI that hosts indoor trials. Most of the trials for that club fall on weekends before or after the MN trials, so it comes down to picking one or the other. Distance-wise they are almost the same. If anything the WI trials are closer than a few of the MN trials, which makes it an easier decision.

The downside is that I've never been to the facility and it's a complete unknown to me at this point. The people I know that have attended these trials seem to have nothing but good things to say about it, though, so that helps.

I just feel bad that I won't see my MN friends as often. :o( Especially since I'm also cutting back on NADAC. I suppose an argument could be made that this would afford me the opportunity to make new friends. That is never a bad thing.

Ultimately I know the best decision for me -- considering my limited finances and despise for poor weather -- is to stick to the indoor venues whenever possible. But come the first weekend in June, if it is 70 degrees and sunny with a light breeze I know I'll hate myself for missing out on the big MAC trial in Lake Elmo. Argh. I can't tell you how much I envy those who are able to enter trials every weekend and don't have to sit an agonize over such decisions.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Fat Dogs

First things first --- Missy has been adopted!!!! I feel bad that I didn't get some kind of going away photo, so this picture of Secret crashed on the couch will have to do. Secret doesn't really miss Missy. In fact, I think she's happy to have all the space back to herself on that side of the couch....

Missy's adopter spent almost two hours with us on Friday. I kept the rest of the crew locked away in the bedroom so they wouldn't be in the way and distracting. I'm pretty sure it was Secret that I heard scratching at the door several times. They pretty much thought it sucked (although when I opened the door to let them out she was sprawled out on the bed, so I don't think it was that horrible).

Missy was a good girl and showed our visitor all of her tricks and how well she is able to tug and play with toys. I was having a difficult time really getting a feel for how he felt about Missy. If anything I was getting the impression that Missy wasn't really what he was looking for, so I almost did a happy dance when he said he thought he'd have to go ahead and take her home with him. Yay for Missy! She won him over! I haven't gotten any updates yet, so I hope they are doing well together. I think they were a very good fit for one another.

Aside from Missy's adoption, I don't have a darn thing to write about -- Which is why I'm turning this into another soapbox day! This morning I was reading my February issue of Clean Run (yes, I'm still super far behind) and I came upon the article, "How much of a handicap are you giving your dog," by Donna Somers. I don't know who this person is or what her credentials are (there are no D.V.M. letters behind her name or anything), but I do want to reach out and give her a big old hug for just how PLAINLY she wrote this article. She didn't mince words or try to pad the blow -- She outright said, "Don't complain about drive or speed if your dog is fat."

Fat dogs in general are a pet peeve of mine, but fat dogs in agility are a boiling point. If a dog is overweight, there is only one being to blame -- the human. Dogs don't feed themselves (aside from counter-surfing or raiding the feed bin, anyhow!). I've often wished I had someone controlling my diet the way I do for my dogs. Wouldn't that be grand? ;o)

I get so tired of excuses. "But he's always STARVING, I have to feed him extra to get him to leave me alone." Who is training who in that house? "I just can't say no when she looks at me with those big sad eyes." I bet your dog would be just as happy to go for a walk -- sad eyes gone! "He gets into the food bin and steals off the counter." That house needs better management...

With the exception of true medical issues, weight management is not rocket science. Unlike humans, dogs don't struggle with the issue of willpower. Also unlike humans, most dogs think that exercising ROCKS and is the highlight of their day. Dogs are always ready to go for walks, chase balls & frisbees or head to the lake for a swim. My dogs would do this 24/7 if they could.

It could be that part of the problem is that people don't realize that their dogs really are fat. Being overweight has become so commonplace these days that it just blends in (says the overweight person). Watch any televised conformation show and you will think that dogs are supposed to jiggle & wiggle as they trot around the ring (well, if you own a Labrador at least!). I think a lot of people aren't familiar first-hand with what a truly fit animal looks & feels like.

I loved the part of the article that stated, "If you look at your dog and think he could stand to lose a pound or two, he could probably stand to lose more." (Loosely quoted, as I don't have it in front of me.) The author used the racehorse world as an example for her argument of how much extra weight impacts our dogs in agility. A weight of a few pounds is considered a handicap to slow down and animal that weighs over 1000 pounds. That is such a miniscule percentage of the horse's total weight, but it can have a dramatically noticeable effect on their speed. When we talk about taking a couple of pounds off a dog, the effect can be DRASTIC.

Luke was a prime example of this at work. When Luke and I first started in agility, he was definitely what would be considered pet/farm fit. He was heavily muscled from all of the trail rides and frisbee play that we did. He weighed 93 pounds and I don't know anyone who would have called him fat. As we got more involved in agility it was obvious that his weight/size was not doing him any favors. He had several minor injuries in those early days. In an effort to reduce this, I got him down to 85 pounds and he seemed to do much better. In addition, I did notice an increase in his speed (of course we were both gaining experience and that always helps, too!).

Skip forward a few years to 2009 when Luke was diagnosed with Addison's disease. Luke lost a lot of weight when he crashed. At first I was pretty horrified to learn that he lost almost 10 pounds and was tipping the scales at just 76 pounds when I took him home. The more I looked at him, though, the more I realized that he was looking pretty good. I didn't put much effort into putting the weight back on him -- My vet wasn't concerned, so I just fed him as usual. When we started back up in agility, I couldn't believe how fast he was! Even just three weeks off his Addisonian crash, my dog was faster than ever. We had always struggled to make time in Weavers, but after the drastic weight loss there was never a time that we didn't make time on course (save a major error, that is!) and he pounded out the Q's he needed to finish two Versatility NATCH's in less than a year! Weight has a huge impact on speed and course times. FYI, I now maintain Luke at a svelte 77 pounds.

A couple of years ago I would have never believed that Kaiser would now be my most difficult dog for whom to manage its weight. lol In Kaiser's younger days the bigger concern was actually getting him to eat at all. If I didn't leave food out for him 24/7, I honestly felt he'd waste away to nothing. I tried to teach him to eat on schedule when I got Secret, but after he lost over a pound I decided it was easier to teach Secret not to touch his food dish. Kaiser always self-maintained a weight between 16.5 and 17 pounds without any effort on my part.

Then the little fart got neutered. With that, suddenly he developed an appetite and was devouring anything I put in front of him. This is when I realized that I had no idea how much he actually ate in a day. Add in the running contact training we were doing (with copious amounts of CHEESE!) and it's no wonder the little guy suddenly ballooned up to 18 pounds. OMG. I was horrified that I had let that happen. I'm sure the extra weight wasn't helping the jumping problems he was experiencing at the time!!!

Just to prove that weight loss/control in dogs is not rocket science, Kaiser was back down to his fighting weight of 16.7/17 pounds within a few months. He doesn't get on a scale as often as I'd like, but we can generally maintain pretty well with feel. If I were to put him on a scale today I'd guess he'd be closer to 17 again -- he is not as thin as my other two, though, and could probably lose a 1/4 - 1/2 pound or so. Most people say, "Oh, summer is coming and he'll work it off then."" It's the opposite for Kaiser, though. More training in the summer = more treats, so now is the time to start backing off on his meal rations again. That's definitely one benefit to training with toys; you don't have to worry about the extra calories!

Thumbs up to Donna Somers for writing this blunt, to the point article -- and to Clean Run for printing it. I hope people take it to heart and realize that we are doing no favors to run fat dogs in agility (or any other sport). If your dog is sporting an extra pound or two, make it your goal this year to really improve their fitness. And maybe yours, too -- which is a never-ending goal for myself. :o) Who wants to come make all of my meals and implement an exercise schedule for me??

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Free will and all that good stuff

I'm a big fan of free will. I think that most people are reasonably intelligent and able to make decisions for themselves. I'm not a big fan of people or organizations that decide to make decisions for me when I'm fully capable of doing so for myself.

In case you missed it, NADAC has once again done something that irks me. They are taking away your CHOICE to jump your dog at their measured height once they reach eight years of age. And once your dog reaches the age of 11, you are going to be forced to enter the Skilled division and follow a different award path than you have for the dog's entire career. It has been announced that this will not take effect until January of 2014, but since Sharon seems to gung-ho on the idea and so many minions are pleased with the announcement, it would not surprise me to see this fast-tracked and implemented sooner.

To be clear, I'm a big fan of the Veteran division (which begins at age seven) and the Skilled division. Luke ran in Proficient Standard on 12/31 and as a Vet the very next day when he turned seven -- I was going to take that height break as soon as I could. That was my CHOICE, as I was aware of the fact that jumping 20" was not the easiest thing on his body and that he is just better off at 16". That said, I know a good number of older dogs with builds more suited to jumping that continue to jump their measured heights just fine. Many of these dogs are competing in multiple venues at higher heights, so I take issue with an organization that says, "You *must* do this now." I really do feel that it should be left up to the dog's owner to determine the comfort level of the dog and what they are capable of doing.

I made the choice to run Secret & Kaiser in the Skilled division, so I obviously don't have a problem with it -- but I do have a problem with forcing people to take that track if it's not something that interests them. Luke is two years away from being forced to take another height drop, but I can tell you that if I were to run him at 12" today the ring crew would be very busy after our runs. He plows through 8" and 12" bars as though they aren't even there. By the time he's eleven it may come to be that he is better off running as a Skilled Vet, but again, that should be MY DECISION.

I really do feel that the vast majority of people in NADAC are looking out for the best interests of their dogs. I also feel that if a person is jumping their dog too high, it generally doesn't take long for someone to have a friendly discussion with them about the benefits of taking a height break. Ultimately, my biggest issue is simply taking away the choices that competitors with "younger" dogs get to make on their own. Let ME decide what is best for my dogs.

I don't know what's up with NADAC these days, but all of these changes are starting to irritate me. BTW, five weeks until our next USDAA trial. :o)

Enough ranting, onto training. I believe I shall declare this the Year of Backyard Dogs. At some point or another I suppose I'm actually going to have to do some training with the contacts, but I really do enjoy these exercises for the simplicity of setting them up and the fact that they force/encourage me to step outside of my comfort zone and work on new things.

Because I am currently reading the February 2012 issue that I recently received with my order, that was the obvious choice for our drills last night. The exercises were described as, "back to the basics" type drills and the first several were pretty simple. I chose exercises 6, 7 & 10 because they offered the chance to work on threadles, push-throughs and a back-side jump. It wasn't until I got out there that I realized only one of my drills actually used the weave poles. Oh well. I spliced everything together again -- And again, just click the picture to blow it up to see numbers.

Everyone rocked the first drill, easy peasy. I did get in Secret's way once and caused a knocked bar at number four, but that was the extent of that (FYI, I edited these videos more than usual to keep the crap out for brevity).

I was surprised at how well everyone listened to my pull into the correct end of the tunnel on the second drill. Kaiser especially so, since he found this so difficult the last time we saw this. We all struggle with threadles, so that's something to work on this year. Secret was doing the oddest wrap/turn at jump five to start with. The article wanted the dog to wrap the jump to the left, but something I was doing was causing her to flip and turn right. A wrap is a wrap, but that was wrong -- I started to go a little deeper into the jump and she managed to work it out. The 8-9-10 sequence went better for all than I expected --- That was a tight little space for them to jump into me!

I knew getting the number two jump on the third sequence was going to be difficult for everyone, which is why I specifically chose that drill. We need to work on a lot more of this type of thing! This is where most of my video editing occurred, as all three dogs took the wrong side of #2 on several occasions. In the clips where you see me standing waaaaaay out to the side, it's most likely because we'd just had two or three poor attempts.

Here is Secret's video:

The boys have a video, too, this time! They are together because theirs is shorter. Kaiser was pretty much perfect and didn't have many takes and I didn't ask Luke to do much. Note, I moved Kaiser back to 8" because the last few times I jumped him at 12" he just wasn't very speedy. I was happy to see him more himself again.

I didn't include it on the videos, but I also did weave work with all three dogs -- specifically, working on rear crosses. It would be nice to have more confidence in these to be able to do them at trials when needed. The dogs tend to do really well with rear crosses into the weaves at home, but they all showed me that they did get pretty rusty on this skill. All did well letting me cross behind while slicing that jump on the bottom, but the very sharp rear cross from that jump above the weaves was difficult. Everyone ended super well, though, so that's fantastic! Something to keep working on, for sure.

Happy news to share! Missy has a potential adopter coming to meet her tomorrow, so I'd appreciate it if everyone could think good thoughts and cross your fingers and toes! She has been with me seven weeks now and she deserves to find a home of her own! This person is driving from three hours away, so I'm very hopeful that he will love her and decide to take her home. He saw some other puppies that came into rescue this weekend and is trying to decide, I guess. Come on, who wouldn't want the puppy that has all the hard work done for you? ;o)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Udder-ly Awesome

Oh look, it's another new toy. ;o)

I've been wanting to try an Udder-Tug for some time. I don't know why; maybe just because everyone says the dogs go nuts for them. I guess it has something to do with the stretch factor combined with the "stinks like a barn" factor (they are all recycled from actual farm use -- what a boon, taking something the farmers throw away and selling them for $15 each!).

When I recently (finally) re-subscribed to Clean Run, I also had to order the back-issues that I missed. I figured if I had to pay shipping, I may as well add something fun to the box. I was just looking at these toys in the J&J catalog, so I threw one into my shopping cart on Clean Run.

While I've seen other people using them, I've never actually seen one in person so I wasn't sure of the size or construction of them. True to its word, it really does smell like a barn. Mmmm. For whatever reason, I expected the rubber to be a bit thicker or stiffer, but it's quite pliable and has a decent amount of stretch when the dog pulls on it. I don't see this as a toy that will last the ages with Secret, as it did show fairly considerable use after just one night playing with it. Oh well, we'll see.

One use that intrigued me was that I've heard some people put them over their leashes, thereby encouraging tugging with dogs who might not be interested in the leash itself. Hmm. Might be something I'd be inclined to try with Secret one day (obviously not at a NADAC trial). It is a continuous long term goal to get her to tug at trials!

Look what I dug out of the basement last night! The teeter! It never even saw the light of day last year. Secret made great strides this winter by becoming comfortable with the bang game and the rebound of the teeter, so I figured it was time to scrape a bit of paint off the walls to bring the teeter outside to test her in a new environment. Plus I figured she needed to learn how to apply speed to the approach again.

Family Dog Center had posted on their Facebook page that they were having an open agility session last night. Because we still so desperately need to see other teeters, I posted to ask if their course had a teeter. Of course, it didn't. Come on -- The club offers AKC and CPE trials, yet their open agility sessions never contain anything but NADAC equipment. I'm starting to understand the frustrations my students used to express about lack of ability to practice on equipment in this area....

So since I wasn't going to drive to La Crosse to practice a NADAC course, I figured dragging my teeter out of the basement was the next best thing.

I am terribly pleased with our informal training session last night (all the dogs were outside while we played -- thankfully with more room there is less worry of one getting squished under the teeter as happens in the basement...). I had one 22" jump set up about 15' away from the teeter plank.

We started out with the bang game, having Secret just slam the end down. And newsflash -- We did it all with the Udder-Tug! NO TREATS. I was thrilled with the confidence and enthusiasm she was showing me. She progressed from pulling it down, to pulling it down and assuming her bottom position (something she never really did in the basement) and then --- She jumped on it with all four feet and slammed it to the ground! That kind of attitude makes me terribly happy and hopeful that new teeters will be less scary.

We practiced loading onto the teeter straight on from the jump and with a bunch of nifty wraps and even a few ketchker moves. ;o) All were fun, fun, fun for Secret. I like having her happy teeter back. Let's hope it stays!

All of the dogs got to have their teeter fun last night -- Including Missy..... Apparently the puppy thought what the other dogs were doing looked like loads of fun, because she started to go over the teeter all on her own. Oh my. At least five times I found her on the plank, merrily making it tip. She has NO FEAR. She thinks it's fun! She likes the teeter so much that she went and crashed next to it when we were all bumming in the yard. Girl, you are an odd duck...

This morning I watched when I let the dogs outside and wouldn't you know it, she went up and over the teeter AGAIN. It's like her new toy or something. Apparently I'm going to have to put the teeter up somehow to keep her off it. I'm not terribly concerned about her getting hurt because she is just walking over it at this point, but nor should we take any chances.

With her fearless attitude and incredibly high food drive (and a pretty good play drive as well), I bet this girl could have quite the future in agility if someone wanted to go that route.

Oops! I forgot I was going to add a completely pointless video. :o) It's just Secret playing with her new toy --- And she's not going at it with quite as much gusto as usual because she was concerned that the puppy had stolen her Jolly Ball.... But she was able to keep tugging through that distraction, so yay Secret!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Swimming!! In March?

When you have record high temperatures several days in a row in Wisconsin, what do you do? You go swimming! In March! Sweet.

I love swimming the dogs. It's great exercise for them, it's low impact, it wears them out and we all have loads of fun! Honestly, in the summer I think I'd swim them every single day if we didn't have to work in that pesky training stuff. :o)

Secret has gone and jumped in the creek on our walk in the middle of winter, but I don't think we've ever had a true opportunity to SWIM so early in the year. It was 78 degrees when we went home from work on Friday and the day just begged for a trip to the river. I thought that surely we'd have it all to ourselves -- school wasn't out yet for the day and come on, it's March -- you can't tell me people are going to go swimming in March? That water is still pretty cold.

Well, the public was out in full force enjoying the beautiful day alongside us. The park where we go for our water access was fairly busy (for this park, at least) --- So I drove straight to the trail access and parked there. A small group of guys was leaving as we arrived, so I waited for them to drive away before I let the maniacs out of the car. Seriously, it's embarrassing how they all scream as soon as we pull into the drive.

With them driving away, I hoped we'd have the little beach to ourselves. We encountered one more person on the trail (who Secret barked at because I couldn't get the brat to come to me on time). Then as we rounded the bend to our swimming spot I saw a small group of people standing on the shoreline -- including a couple of small kids. Yay..... Secret does not have a history of doing so well around kids.

Well happy day, she was so excited about swimming that she completely ignored them all. I really hovered over her on her first several retrieves, but she didn't make any bug eyes at the group or give any other indication that they stressed her. The kids were shrieking and screaming quite a bit (hello, the water was COLD and they were swimming in it... I'd scream, too!) and it didn't seem to bother her at all. Score one for toy drive.

Saturday was even warmer than the day before! When I got home from working at the shelter it was still 82 degrees. I loaded the crew into the car and head out for day two of swimming. This time we did have the beach to ourselves for the first bit, then a group of teenagers came wandering down to do stupid things (ie: take a boat over those tiny little "rapids" in the first photo). The boys were the ones doing "brave manly things" in the water while the group of girls stood around and behaved as awkwardly as most teenagers do when they unexpectedly run into an adult and have to share space with someone they don't know. We just kept chucking toys into the water.

I thought Secret might lose it when the boat went by, but again thanks to the mighty power of the Wubba, she didn't even blink an eye. I don't think she's ever seen a boat in the water before, so I'm glad she didn't flip her lid or anything. She handled the passel of girls until one of them reached towards her as we were leaving, then she barked at them. Well, there you go -- Don't reach towards strange dogs, girls.

We destroyed another Wubba over the two days. Those things just can't stand up to Secret. :o( We have the carcass of another one that will probably make it one more trip, but after that we're toast. I might have to take the bumper and see if she'll fetch that in the water. It seems a bit more hardy -- not so susceptible to the tearing she likes to do when she brings it to shore. We have an endless supply of tennis balls, but Secret doesn't seem to show any interest in fetching those in the water.

Missy did great with her first water experience! She wasn't so sure when we first got there on Friday. She whined a bit and ran back and forth on the shoreline. I missed it, but at some point she must have fallen in or something because the next time I saw her she was soaked from head to toe. lol After that she had fun splashing and running around in the shallow water. She especially liked to try to "attack" Luke as he came back with his ball. Luke gets really upset when Rascal does this to him so I made sure it didn't get out of hand, but overall he didn't seem terribly bothered by Missy's behavior. Secret, however, was not going to put up with it and just wanted the puppy out of her way. Missy figured it out and stuck to jumping on Luke.

On Saturday Missy found her sea legs! While bouncing around after Luke she found herself in deeper water than she expected. She seemed surprised at first, but then she started to go on a little swim-about all on her own! She swam several more times that day. At one point I just had to laugh when I realized she was swimming in a circle trying to get her tail.... Oh Missy.

The potential adopter that is hopefully going to meet her this week lives by a lake, I guess --- So I figured it might up her "value" if we could say she likes water & swimming. I think it was a hit!

I didn't get home until close to 7:00 last night, so I passed on swimming three days in a row (even though it was still 78 degrees!). This weather doesn't show signs of stopping any time soon, so we may have plenty more opportunity to head over that way. Or, of course, I suppose we could practice some agility. I'm starting to think it may be time to get the contacts out!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Taking advantage of the nice weather

Secret is such a good sport. I didn't even have treats on me when I set her up for this picture. Of course, that could be why she looks kind of pissy... She was like, "Dude, I'm totally not barking and putting on a happy face for you without treats." Oh well. She's still cute.

After the last controversial post, I figured I'd just go back to lighthearted random crap again. :oP Seriously, I was pretty surprised by the number of hits that post got. Granted, it could be because I posted it on my Facebook wall (which prompted its own good discussion). There were many good points made, but to be honest I do think a lot of people live in la-la land and just don't realize that the habits they've developed are not in the best interest of their dogs. But whatever, if they're happy, they're happy. I just always like to think we can be BETTER.

In the interest of making ourselves better, I took advantage of the record breaking 71 degree day (and the fact that it's the only Tuesday/Thursday I didn't have to work at the shelter THIS ENTIRE MONTH) and set another drill from the Clean Run Backyard Dogs series.

I didn't put much actual thought into choosing one. Namely because I really didn't feel like setting anything at all but I figured I should. I just grabbed the last issue on my table (which happens to be January 2012 since I kind of let my subscription lapse -- no worries, I reordered yesterday AND ordered the back-issues that I missed....). The drill wasn't particularly inspiring to me, but it was better than something I would have dreamed up on my own.

I went and photomerged the three drills I picked -- go ahead and click on the picture to make the exercises actually viewable.

I think the bullet points at the top of the article said that it was designed to test weave entries as well as offer opportunities for front and rear crosses. I didn't pay much attention, but I do always try to read the little boxes for each drill to see what sort of handling they might suggest. If there's one area I suffer, it's getting stuck inside a box and not "seeing" all of the options in front of me.

We had good points and not so good points. Good points were that she totally nailed every weave entry thrown at her and she had super nice turns & wraps. Secret's trouble spots definitely stuck out. The one that was repeated over and over was her lack of drive through the poles when I'm not right there -- it doesn't help that she was weaving into the fence, which is about as demotivating as it gets for her.

Typically, I didn't want to go past the second or third pole because I wanted to stay ahead of her for the jump after. A few times she would just pop out and stare at me, wondering why I wasn't ahead of her. If she did stay in the poles they were quite a bit slower than usual -- Like, really slow. As soon as we moved past that and on to the rest of the exercise her normal speed would come back because I was running with her. Secret will do her weaves with great lateral distance, but getting her to drive independently ahead through them while I hang back has ALWAYS been a struggle point for us.

The other part that she hated was in the third drill, the continuous 360 from 6-7-8. Again we see a spot where I'm stuck in one spot expecting her to drive around me. Secret has always been pretty insistent that we both put in equal amounts of effort in this sport, which is how I find myself doing so many front crosses to stay in front of her. With that part of the exercise it was hard to do much other than shuffle my feet in place, so she put forth an equal amount of enthusiasm. I found myself wishing I would have picked a different drill, but then again, you never know when you might see that same set-up at a trial (not NADAC, obviously).

At that point she kind of just quit on me. That hasn't happened for some time, but there were several reasons. My own lackluster energy was largely to blame. The stupid neighbor kids were outside next door and I think it was a combination of the noise they were making (they NEVER play outside in the winter, so she hasn't heard anything over there for a long time) and the 360 exercise in the last drill that just sort of did her in. The warm weather seems to be hitting all of the dogs, too, in that they aren't acclimated to it just yet.

So I put Secret in the house for a bit while I worked the other dogs. I brought her out for a quick session before I put everything away to just do some simple fun things with the jumps still down at 12". I raced her through the weaves to get her happy weaves back. I did some back side of the jump work -- both pushing her around from the front and having her follow me to the backside, something I don't think we've really done much of. We finished with some fast paced easy crossing drills that made her happy.

Then we all just sat in the yard for the next hour and enjoyed the evening.

So I heard back from one of Missy's potential adopters yesterday! He said he really liked the video and would like to meet Missy in person. My schedule, of course, makes this sort of thing unfortunately difficult. At the moment we are looking at next Friday. Hopefully it works out!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Recently I opened up my big mouth again on the NADAC list about something I find irritating. In my usual fashion, my delivery was pretty direct and apparently offensive to some people. It's not the first time that's happened, and knowing my personality, it probably won't be the last. ;o)

I sent off another e-mail (that is awaiting approval via the normal NADAC moderating system) apologizing for the way I delivered my message and explained some of the reasoning behind what I posted. I thought maybe the subject would make a good blog post.

I am an easily irritated person, I will admit. And possibly quite a few people find ME irritating. lol When it comes to things that irritate me in agility, I have to stand up and admit that the reason these things irritate me is because I used to do them. Yes, almost every single one of the things people do that catch my attention are things that I, myself, used to do before someone told me otherwise. My irritation mostly lies with the fact that nobody has sat that person down yet to teach them a better way to do things. Maybe these "irritating" things work well for that team -- but if that's the case, I don't tend to notice it. I notice when teams are struggling with the same problem trial after trial -- Problems that I used to have with my own dogs until those habits were pointed out to me.

The question posed on the NADAC list was, "What do I name the hoop?" What a silly question, I thought -- First of all, if you are going to name it why not just say, "hoop?" Although I will say that hearing people "HOOPHOOPHOOPHOOP" around a course is more than an irritant; it's downright annoying.

My response contained the same message as several others that replied -- Why name them at all? My mistake was coming out and admitting that it irritated me to hear people naming every obstacle on course. I feel that the dogs get so used to us jabbering away at them on course that they start to tune us out. When we run into situations where they MUST listen to us (OMG, do not go in that tunnel!) they don't hear the frantic screams of, "Nooo!!" because they are so used to what you are saying having no real relevance to them (and hey, let's be honest -- your feet were totally pointing to the tunnel).

I used to jabber at my dogs. Not so much obstacle names (although I certainly did that in the beginning, too!), but lots of cheer leading and other mindless directional babble. It *really* added to Kaiser's stress levels. When someone pointed this out to me I took it to heart and really made an effort to not talk so much. I still have my moments where I revert back to cheer leading (I just can't help myself if they are slooooow), but overall I really do try to keep my trap shut. I don't think I have ever hooted out, "Hoop!" on course, either, and I hope I never do.

Another thing I find irritating (because I used to do it) is the endless use of HERE!!!!!!! on course. Gah!!!! There are some people that I think say "Here" at least 100 times on one course. Generally they do this as their dog is heading off in the wrong direction, when it's far too late. And because they overuse this word to oblivion, the dog has learned that it has little to no value. As a result you have a dog looking at a tunnel, you cry out, "here! here! here!" and they respond with, "Yup, I'll be right with you as soon as I take this tunnel."

It was my lesson with Debbie Erb up in Eau Claire that pointed out just how useless this word is as a cue. They hear it and it has no meaning. What does have meaning to a dog? Their name! Do not most dogs hear their name and snap to look at you? (If they don't, maybe you should spend some time playing the name game where you say their name and stuff food in their mouth.) When I need to get my dog's attention on course, I use their name, not "here." Since I started doing this their focus on me went WAY UP and our off courses and call-offs went WAY DOWN. It was so simple, but it was something I never knew until it was pointed out to me.

Recently my friend, Rich, asked me why I clap my hands so much while running my dogs. Uh..... I didn't have an answer for this. I knew I did it because often times my hands would sting terribly after a run (especially with Kaiser!). He asked me if I did that when I ran them at home and I had to admit that no, I don't clap my hands at home. Hmm. Could I possibly be adding to my dogs' stress levels by doing something different at trials than at training? Duh. Since then I have made a concerted effort to STOP CLAPPING on course. Stop clapping in the weaves, stop clapping on turns, stop clapping to try to "speed them up." And you know what, I think they are happier! I think it makes them faster and their turns are better now that I'm directing them rather than clapping. Go figure. I have caught myself once or twice since then and gave myself a mental slap on the wrist. As with all habits, I'm sure it will take time and effort to stop it completely -- but at least I'm aware of it now!

I train alone and I know a lot of bad habits creep into my routine. Some things I do because I was never taught otherwise. I always appreciate it when someone takes the time to point these things out to me so that I can make improvements -- even better when these tidbits are free from friends or off an agility list. ;o) So while I admit that my delivery could use improvement, if the message made an impact on at least one person then I made my point.

One more irritant from NADAC trials (lol). DO A FRONT CROSS. Thank you, that is all.

Missy's ears are doing strange and endearing things these days. Quite frequently they both stand forward with a floppy tip at the top. It is precious and I wish they'd stay that way, but she quite frequently folds her ears backwards and then they fall. I remember how Secret's ears did so many wonky things and changed daily through her teething period, so it's hard to say how Missy's ears will end up. I think she would look darling with prick or slightly tipped ears, though.

Missy's video has over 250 views on YouTube over the last 24 hours. Sadly, I never heard back from either of her potential adopters after I sent them the new video link. :o( I receive nothing but wonderful feedback from every person who sees the video. Every person who meets Missy proclaims what a wonderful puppy she is and how lucky someone will be to adopt her. Yet here she sits in foster care. We're coming up on six weeks now! For a wee puppy that is smart and adorable!

Melissa pointed out that I should perhaps lay off on the whole Border-Staffy subject when people ask what she might be mixed with. Let them decide for themselves, but apparently I am better off sticking with, "Border Collie mix." There's total truth to this statement -- I mean, we certainly can't say for sure what she's mixed with at all. I went with B-S because so many people see it in her and *I* don't have a problem with that particular mix -- they are bred for sport, after all and for some people this would be a bonus! But I know from my experience at the shelter that there certainly *are* people who will have issues with that mix (especially pet people) and we are probably better off leaving it at BCX. Sigh. Poor Missy.

Today on our walk with her ears standing up in the wind and her tongue hanging halfway to the ground (it's in the mid-70's!!), I started to see more border collie in her. Maybe her nose is going to grow out after all. :o)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Spring Training!

Spring training has begun! As you can see by all of the lovely dead grass covering Secret, the yard is nice and dry at the moment. We've had a nice stretch of dry, windy weather that did a great job at getting rid of the mud. Yesterday was a record-breaking 67 degrees -- what a beautiful day!

Somehow the stars aligned and I found myself with a day off work and no agility trial to attend. I didn't ask off or anything, I just didn't get put on the schedule for whatever reason. Seeing as I didn't work at all last weekend because of the trial, this kind of stinks for the paycheck, but having an actual DAY OFF turned out to be such a blessing. We thoroughly enjoyed our day. Because it was so beautiful, we spent the majority of the day outside. The dogs loved it!

Of course I wasn't going to let the day pass by without taking advantage of having the opportunity to train the dogs! Ever since I got the broad jump built, I've been planning to pull out the Backyard Dogs drill that I remembered seeing that featured this piece of equipment. My memory surprises me at times, for when I looked up which issue it was that contained these exercises, it was from January of 2010!! Why on earth did that stick with me so long? At any rate, I pulled out the issue and the article was just was I was looking for. It gave us lots of fun things to work on!

My brain can successfully retain three drills at a time, which tends to work out quite well for the dogs so far as keeping them fresh & engaged. I memorized the first three and then ran all three dogs (Secret, then Kaiser, then Luke). Then I flipped the broad jump the other direction, took a break for a while (so that I could work on video footage for Missy's new video -- more later!) and then came out and did three more exercises a bit later in the day.

For Secret, all of the jumps were set at 22" and the broad jump was set at 48". She handled everything with ease and I'm very happy with how well she did. She did start to peter out on me by the 6th drill, but other than that she was doing great at keeping up her speed & enthusiasm. I threw a pretty bad blind cross at her, which she handled without a problem. I think the blended front cross I did with the last drill was something new for her as well (for both of us, really!), but we got it figured out and ended it very nicely.

Aside from offering such a wide variety of skills sets with which to work, I also appreciate Backyard Dogs for being set in an area which makes it quite handy to get on video. :o)

I did video Kaiser & Luke's sessions as well, but I haven't decided if I'll bother putting them online or not. I've been editing video all day and for now I'm done. The boys did well in their own ways. Kaiser was not really feeling it yesterday and was noticeably slower than usual for whatever reason (I was jumping him at 12", it is worth noting). He also has his issues with blowing me off and taking the wrong tunnel entrances, but that's Kaiser for you.... Luke did well but sent several 12" bars flying. He was a little frantic and excited, but much of the blame is on me because my timing is just off with him on the tight work. I'm not going to worry about it, because tight just isn't his thing.

So, back to Missy. Yes, she's STILL with me. It's been over five weeks now and the poor girl still hasn't found her forever home. She started losing her front teeth last week, which we figure puts her right at 16 weeks now. We went to the vet on Friday for her rabies shot and to get her microchip implanted. What a good girl she was at the clinic -- she's just not scared of anything. She desperately wanted to play with Olivia the clinic kitty, so I think she was happy that she got to go visit Bethany on Saturday to play with Asher (oh, and Rascal, too, I'm sure -- lol).

There was a very promising potential adopter that I spoke with last week. We were hoping to get together on Sunday since I had the day off, but something came up and she wasn't able to make it. Melissa sent me info for another interested party and I spoke with him Saturday night when I got home from work. It sounds promising -- I told him I'd been planning to do an updated video to show how much she's changed in the last month, so that's what prompted the whole video project on Sunday. I'm pretty pleased with how the video turned out. I made it a full scale adoption promo video in case for whatever reason he (or the first person) decides he's not interested after all. That way it can still be used on the BCRMN web site for other people to see.

I got a "share" on Facebook by a pretty "big name" person in the border collie & rescue world. I think a lot of hits have come my way from her post. So cross your fingers, hopefully something will happen soon for Missy! She deserves a loving family of her own.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

If I knew then?

So today is a Dog Agility Blog Event -- something thought up and put together by Steve over at AgilityNerd. The theme of the day is, "If I knew then what I know now." I have to be honest, I'm really struggling with this topic! I wonder if anyone else is having the same issue?

Who doesn't have things they would have done differently, had they had the knowledge they gleaned through years of trial and error? That's part of life. Very rarely do you come out of the gate perfect at something -- at least I haven't been that fortunate.

Looking back, there are a million things I would have done differently in my life, but then there is very little likelihood I'd be where I am now. Is that a terrible thing, though? I suppose it depends on where the alternate path would have taken me. I think my number one regret is that I didn't go to school when I had the chance (ie: financial help from my parents). I have never been one to embrace change and the thought of leaving everything I knew behind (including my beloved horse) scared the wits out of me.

I was accepted into the vet tech program at a school in Iowa. I backed out in favor of taking the easy path -- staying in a town where I knew everyone and felt comfortable, continuing on my path with the horses, something I thought I would be involved with forever at the time. All these years later I still find myself with a burning desire to work in a vet clinic. And while everyone says, "It's never too late," I know that it's just not in the cards for me right now. So kids, go to school when you're young! lol

If I had a chance to go back to 2008 when I was house shopping, I would do things differently. When I set my mind to something I don't tend to be very patient about waiting for the right outcome. I looked at many different houses and was getting tired of the whole thing and just wanted to be done with the whole ordeal. I do *very much* like my house and my yard is perfect -- but the location is absolutely horrible for my needs.

Why did I buy a house in town?? Why did I buy a house in a neighborhood full of young families? It's like living on a different planet... Why did I buy a house in a city with the most stupid limit laws ever? Why did I buy a house in a city with outrageously ridiculous taxes? If I could do it all over again, I would hold out until I found a place outside of town. This would allow me to do two things that would make me very happy: Obtain a kennel license (if necessary, although most places around here allow 4-5 dogs outside of town) and teach at home without worrying about neighbors turning me in. I love teaching. I miss teaching. I find it very rewarding and hey, it's not like the supplemental income wouldn't come in handy!

So those are my two big life, "If I knew" ramblings. If you are reading this and have yet to make those choices, learn from my mistakes. ;o)

Living in the region where I live, there wouldn't have been much of an opportunity to change my early agility experience. The saddest part is that it isn't any different now and there are STILL absolutely no proper foundation agility classes available in my area. Training classes are still being ran exactly the same way, with dogs on leashes being led over, through and across full sized equipment. This is how I learned agility with Luke, like every other person who lives in this area. Thankfully my present and future dogs will benefit from what I've learned about providing proper foundation training over the years. Looking back, I actually find it remarkable that Luke and I have managed to come as far as we have with the training that's been available to us. I figure my obsessively determined personality is to thank, as well as my years working with the horses that taught me a thing or two about training.

I am ever so thankful for productions such as Clean Run and the numerous training articles and blogs that can be found online. There is so much education out there free for the taking if you are willing to look for it. We owe it to our dogs not to settle for the status quo, especially when the instruction available to you is second-rate. I hate seeing teams struggle with the same issues over and over at trials, yet they continue on the same path and never seek anything different. How is that rewarding to the dog or handler?

My number one goal in this agility journey is that my dogs have fun. If they aren't enjoying themselves, we tend to both be miserable out there. Agility is a game, not an obedience drill. Find the joy, even if it doesn't always lead to Q's.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Almost Perfect

Secret far exceeded any expectations at our trial this weekend. One never really knows what to expect when you are coming towards the end of a winter with no training, so the fact that Secret ran 9/10 over the three days of our NADAC trial at Family Dog Center just blew me away. She ran with joy, had fun and was even pretty speedy (for her) with the exception of her last two runs on Sunday when she started to tucker out.

Secret was entered in two runs on Friday night. My goal was to finish up her Elite Versatility Award this weekend and to do that she had to Q in both Weavers & Touch-n-Go. Apparently my confidence in her is pretty high, because I didn't bother to enter her in either of the other rounds offered over the weekend. ;o) She didn't disappoint! Weavers was up first and it was a lovely run. I was surprised to see that she came in a full 10 seconds under course time. She was even five seconds under the large dog time. It never feels like she is going that fast when I run her, but apparently her stride is deceptively large or something.

Touch-n-Go wasn't quite so zippy, but still managed to come in 7.5 seconds under course time for that title. Kaiser was three and a half seconds faster than her -- So Secret, stop letting the little dog beat you. lol (Note: She did manage to beat Kaiser AND Luke in Jumpers on Sunday!!)

Saturday started out with a lovely run in the first round of Regular. Her only NQ of the weekend came in Round 2. Most of the time when any of my dogs NQ on course I am the first to stand up and take the blame for it. I'm sorry, but I am NOT taking the blame for this one. lol The start of the course went from a hoop to the a-frame. There was a tunnel under the a-frame, but the entrance of the tunnel was waaaaaaaay off yonder and not anywhere near the a-frame. Secret was pointing straight ahead towards the a-frame, but when I released her she darted sideways into the tunnel. Oh Secret, you naughty, silly girl. I didn't bother to fix it and just ran the rest of the course.

Apparently there was some sort of malfunction with my videographer during our Chances run on Saturday and all I got was a flash of Secret's tail in the place where that clip should have been. That's always a huge bummer when the run is a Q! Yes, another Q in Elite Chances! Yay!! She did just a lovely job on a course with a couple of hard turn-aways, layered jumps and weaves at a distance. Rock on, baby dog.

Jumpers was really fun! We like Jumpers and Secret seems to find it to be the most motivating thing to do. She put in a nice speedy run at 5.6 yps -- which was faster than Kaiser, but slower than Luke. :o)

Sunday started with Jumpers and it was a course filled with pinwheel after pinwheel. Ugh. I really thought it was a stupid course, but Secret found it enjoyable enough. I threw in one really nice blind cross (that you can't see on the video....) and had actually debated using all blinds to make the run more interesting. The judge even complimented the blind after the run, so it must have looked nice! She ran 5.6 yps again in this run and was faster than both Kaiser AND Luke by about half a second!

Chances was next for us and I had my doubts if Secret would like it or not. It started with a discrimination, which Secret doesn't tend to have much problem with, but she never comes off a contact with much impulsion. From the a-frame you had to get the dog to turn toward you (another impulsion sucker) and then flip out to a hoop with a tempting tunnel in their line of sight. Secret did it very nicely, but then totally landed on her face coming over the next jump. :o( Thankfully she recovered quickly and finished the course easily. Poor dog. The judge actually replaced that jump with a hoop for the Open & Novice levels because Secret wasn't the only one to land and take a digger there. Thankfully face-planting isn't a fault and she got another Q! Two Chances Q's in one weekend! Which means.... She's down to needing just seven for NATCH! Wow!!

In addition, that run was her 100th Q, which earns Secret her 1000 point award! I realized that this was technically her one-year anniversary of trialing, as her first trial was at the end of February last year. Wow. One thousand points in a year of limited trialing. I'm pretty in awe of the baby dog.

There was not much gas left in the tank for Secret's final two runs in Regular. In round one she was really fixating on the dog running before us, which I think made things even worse. I put her behind a different dog for the second run (I have to move her in the run order anyhow because of how close she was to Luke) and it felt like that run went much better -- although now that I actually look at the times, the second run was exactly 0.03 seconds faster. lol She certainly is consistent.

Kaiser had a good trial weekend, too! He also ran in ten classes over the three days and managed to Q in six -- Including Touch-n-Go on Friday night! We rarely get TNG Q's, so that was nice. My mentality for the dog walk was to stop if I could, run if I couldn't. The only time I didn't manage to get ahead of him over the course of the weekend was in one round of Regular on Saturday. Of course he didn't stop in that case, but somehow the contact didn't get called and he actually managed to Q! He got both of his dog walks in Regular on Sunday, but an a-frame call in the second round kept us from a clean run. He was starting to peter out on me and just didn't have enough "oomph" over the apex to land in the contact. It happens.

He had lovely runs both days in Jumpers! He really had very little stress in these runs, which is always nice to see considering Jumpers is where he tends to have meltdowns (everything is TOO CLOSE and his space bubble rules often get broken). There is no doubt he is happier at 8", though, which depresses me for his future in USDAA. We'll see.

And finally, Chances.... Oh Kaiser. NEITHER course this weekend had a dog walk in it -- Oh happy day!!! The course on Saturday had a stress point for him right away, though. Kaiser *hates* sweeping across the feet and there was absolutely no way to avoid that move in that course. Even thought I stayed back as far as I could, he still went into la-la land when I tried to direct him through this part. Thankfully I managed to get him back on track without back-jumping or coming across the line and then we were golden. Yay!! That was his O-ECC title, so just three more to go for NATCH!

He was just a little turd for the run on Sunday. ;o) Truth be told, I'm probably to blame for setting him up poorly. The dog in front of us was having some trouble and we went into the ring far too early. Kaiser was actually getting pretty hyped up and ready to go, so I had him lay down. I'm sure he was staring at the tunnel the entire time we were in there, as that's exactly where he ran when released..... I should have just done a slingshot like usual --- although it may not have mattered, because he was quite enamored with the next tunnel on course that he was supposed to turn away from. Alas, he did eventually get it but there was no Q. Darn.

Luke was a good boy. He pretty much thought it royally sucked to not run on Friday night, but he was actually very well behaved. I expected him to bark all night long, but I was told he never made a peep during our runs.

I learned that it might not be fair to expect bonus line work out of him at this point in a winter of no training. We definitely had our wires crossed in the first round of Regular on Saturday. Once we lost it, I never really even came close to getting back on track. I ditched the idea of bonus lines after that, except for in Chances that day. The course was something Luke could do in his sleep and the 20 point line really wasn't THAT far back from where I would have normally handled the course with him. Again, though, it just didn't work. When I set him up to try again he of course nailed it as I knew he would.

Luke enjoyed having me run with him in Jumpers both days. He's been doing really great in that class lately when I stop doing bonus line attempts. :o)

Our nemesis of the weekend was definitely the a-frame. Our stop has gone missing, which isn't all that surprising considering we haven't had an a-frame to practice on since October. After several calls & close calls, I decided to make a point of MAKING him stop in Regular on Sunday. I was able to lead well out in the first round and achieved the goal. In round two I was ahead of him, but he decided to just go ahead and jump off the side when I got in his way. Naughty, naughty boy. I took an E to train on that run. We'd already NQ'd earlier in the course so it didn't much matter. Always good to end the trial on a positive note, though.

Missy was a super star all weekend long. There was one time that I heard her cry out a bit when I took all three dogs outside without her, but aside from that she never made a peep. You may notice the absence of any sort of crate coverings in the photo -- that would be because she kept trying to pull everything into her crate. Later on, we actually pulled her crate away from Kaiser's because she moved on to trying to pull all of HIS furnishings in to her crate. lol Poor girl, she was bored.

She got lots of play time and met lots of new people & dogs. The woman who I had in mind for her did indeed like her quite a lot -- but turns out she's like me and has a bit of a color theme going on. Who knew! Another friend was very interested in her but never really said any more about it to me.

That said, I heard from Melissa last night that we finally have some folks interested in Missy that have turned in applications. Yay! Sounds like they are pet people, but as smart and driven as Missy is I by no means feel she has to be in a sport home. She's playful, but she doesn't have crazy high energy or anything. Melissa is going to put me in touch with the top applicant to see if we can't get something arranged. Fingers crossed!