Sunday, May 27, 2012

Saturday, May 26, 2012

What a day...

 What a day....  What a looooong day.  What a potentially horrendous day.  What a FANTASTIC day.  :o)

 Today was our trip over to New Berlin, WI for the Think Pawsitive USDAA trial.  When I plugged the address into my Garmin last night I was happy to see the trip computed out to about two hours and thirty-five minutes.  That's not bad, so I set my alarm for a half hour later than originally planned -- the super late hour of 3:30 a.m.

I actually did manage to get on the road slightly ahead of my 4:15 departure goal, but then I got about five blocks from home and realized that I had forgotten Secret's Back on Track coat on the couch.  By the time I went back to retrieve it I was now a minute behind schedule -- still pretty good for me at that hour.

We weren't terribly far into our journey when I noticed that the car was pulling to the left.  When did that happen, I wondered?  I figured it was something I'd just failed to notice until then and made a mental note to have the alignment checked when I get the oil changed soon.  Just because I feel like mentioning it here, I checked tire pressure last night like I always do before any trip.

I stopped at the Madison rest stop for a bathroom break and again noted that it just didn't feel like it was turning well as I pulled into our parking spot.  Can't say I noticed anything while we were stopped, but then again I can't say I looked, either.

It wasn't long after we were back on the road that I started to feel some vibration.  Honestly, though, it's not the first time this car has shook -- it quite frequently gets a little shaky right around 65.  It seemed to come and go and it also seemed to get better if I sped up, so I was traveling about 75 or so.  At one point it totally went away and I was only about 12 miles from my exit.  I knew *something* was wrong, but my goal was to limp it along and deal with it at the trial.  Fairly quickly, though, I realized that just wasn't going to be possible.

Honestly, from the sound I thought it was my engine going.  I quickly pulled to the side of the road, which happened to be right on an exit.  I was 9.4 miles from my exit.  I got out of the car and this is what I saw:

 Oh my.  That's my front driver's side tire -- or what was left of it.  The air reeked of burnt rubber.  It was 6:45 a.m.  What do you do??!!

I called my dad.  lol  Silly, but I had to talk to someone I know.  He confirmed the obvious, that I needed to call AAA (yay for asking for a practical birthday present!).

To try to make this shorter, I'll just say that I had the best service ever!  The agent on the phone was great -- very friendly and helpful.  My tow truck driver was unbelievably awesome.  He handled the dogs impressively well.  He towed us to the nearest Tires Plus (within five miles, so towing was covered!) and he was even kind enough to make me take his rain poncho since it was storming outside and I had no protection from the weather.  Seriously an all around great guy.  I sent AAA a message tonight thanking them for all of their help -- I hope they share it with those who helped me.

I got totally hosed on the tire ($130), but I am thankful that everything turned out and that they were able to get me out on the road so quickly.  That alone is probably worth any extra price.  I was back on my way around 9:00 a.m. or so.  The trial started (with Masters Standard) at 8:00.  I figured I would likely miss our first class and I was okay with that.

 I pulled into the trial around 9:20 or so.  When I walked through the doors with my crates I could see that they were walking something in the arena.  I really didn't feel like stressing out about anything (I'd already resigned that I would not be running Standard, which was a bummer because I really want to get out of P1....).  I got my crates set and walked into the arena to check things out before going to grab my next load.  There were still people walking, so I looked at the gate sheets and sure enough there was my name with a big "FLAT TIRE" written next to both of my dogs.  lol  I'd gotten hold of the only person I knew at the trial on Facebook and thankfully she was able to share my predicament with those at the trial.

I told the gate person I was there but not to worry about me.  Everyone was SO NICE at that point.  They insisted that they would "make things work" and told me to go out and walk the course.  Ummm, okay?  I was in my crappy tennis shoes and was basically bra-less for all the support I had (I didn't feel like wearing a "compression" garment for an extra three hours today).  Thank heavens that Starters courses are pretty straightforward and basic.  I walked through it about 1 1/2 times, called it good and ran out for the dogs.  I was able to put my turf shoes on, but that's it.  They ran the 16" dogs first (all two of them) and then I was up with Kaiser immediately followed by Secret.

This is where I get to boast about how awesome my dogs are.  We were up at 3:30 a.m., they were in the car for hours, they had to deal with a strange man, they had to ride alone in the back of the car on a tow truck, they sat in Tires Plus with a thunderstorm going on and then I pulled them out of the car and threw them straight into the ring with NO time to settle, NO warm-up, NO potty break, no nothing.

Well holy bejezus, they both Q'd!  Each of them had the same issue -- bypassing the table and coming back to get on it -- but aside from that they had great runs.  Kaiser had zero jumping issues, he attacked the a-frame without hesitation (the higher a-frame is usually a stress point for him), he stopped on his dog walk and he got his teeter.  The little man rocked it!

I threw him into his crate with a giant handful of chicken and grabbed Secret out of her crate -- no time for treats on the way to the ring or anything.  Secret's stress showed in that she decided she was NOT going to wait at the start line at all and came around the first jump to follow me.  Whoops.  We fixed that quickly and she really put in a lovely run after that.  Her teeter was AWESOME.  No hesitation whatsoever!  Yay!!  She is starting to generalize!

I was so proud of both of them for going through the morning we'd had and managing to hold it together.  I can't help but wonder if part of the reason Kaiser did so well was because I didn't have time to worry about anything.  Grab a dog and run.  Maybe we should do that more often.  ;o)

Gamblers was up next.  By the way, why didn't they start with Gamblers?   I thought everyone started with Gamblers.  Oh well, it worked.  This was our course:

For Kaiser I did weave, weave, jump, a-frame, tunnel, teeter, tire, jump, a-frame and then the buzzer went off when he was in the tunnel.  Oops, not ideal.  He took the teeter on the way over, wasting more time, and then I failed to realize that he went around the outside of the chute as we started the gamble.  I was watching the fabric when suddenly I realized that he was trotting around it, not through it.  Argh.  I sent him back and he blasted down the line -- and FINALLY we got through a gamble without a knocked bar, but the buzzer sounded as he was taking off for the last jump.  Bummer.

I wasn't planning to start at the weaves with Secret since she more or less sucks at weaves at the start.  Why I went that way, then, I do not know.  I threw in a wrap at the jump following the weaves for her to break it up a bit.  When she was in the tunnel I made the spontaneous decision to NOT go for the teeter as planned and instead took her back up the a-frame.  She went through the tire and the buzzer sounded -- how is that for perfect?  We like chutes now, so she made it easily through the gamble.  Yay for another Q!

Pairs was next and Secret was a draw again.  Ever since the run order was posted I was kicking myself about not entering Kaiser because there were three P1 dogs entered.  Turns out I would have had *two* conflicts then, though, since this pair requested to run together.  It was another situation like the last trial -- two friends with two baby dogs who just entered pairs for fun.  Thankfully they were SO NICE and the woman we ended running with was really cool and laid back.  The other P1 dog doesn't know weaves yet, so they both agreed that Sprinter should partner with Secret since half the course contained weaves.

Because Sprinter was the weaver on her run, that meant that Secret would have to run the first half during our turn.  It contained the teeter, but I wasn't terribly concerned since she had done so well in Standard.  She was *slightly* more hesitant on the teeter in our Pairs run, but barely so.  I was thrilled that she still views the baton as a toy and was super charged up for our run.   :o)  Our partner put in a fast & flawless run on her side as well, so unfortunately while she didn't earn a Q in her earlier run, she did help Secret to earn another Q!  Thanks, Sprinter!

 Poor Kaiser had quite the break because he also wasn't entered in Steeplechase/PSJ.  I figured he Q'd last time and with his jumping issues I didn't feel like wasting the money.  I felt bad once we got there that he didn't get to run it, but I don't think he was that put out.  lol

It was at this point where I realized that I don't think I have ever sent Secret through a wonky-shaped tunnel.  She has seen straight tunnels and curved tunnels, but nothing with any sort of an S-shape in her entire life.  Hmm.  Oops.  Because of this she came out of the number two tunnel kind of slow; I'm quite sure it took her by surprise.  I also handled the wrap at number three poorly and she barked at me for it, but she got through there clean.

No problem at the broad jump -- Yay!  Her weaves were slow, though.  I threw in a blind cross between eight and nine and then found myself so far ahead of her at 11/12 that I threw in an impromptu cross between 12 and 13....  Stupid brain.  Thankfully she drove nicely into the tunnel despite the rear cross I had to do there -- and then NEARLY went off course to the jump straight ahead.  She put on the brakes at the last moment and turned to take the correct jump and from there it was pretty straightforward.  She finished clean!

There were only two 22" Performance dogs and she did get second place (by two seconds), but she was about six seconds under the cut-off time for the class, so that's not too bad.  It would help a lot if her weaves were speedier...

Jumpers was our final run of our very long day.  Kaiser was up first and while I got my front cross in between four and five, I failed him on the finish and had to do a rear cross.   Thankfully he didn't have a meltdown over it and made it through the last few jumps without crashing anything.  He did rub a bar, it was either five or eight...  But it stayed up, so it's all good.   :o)  I realized that Kaiser has never been in a wonky tunnel, either....  He came out of the tunnel looking a little bewildered and not knowing where to go.  Maybe I need to start working on that?!  Finally the little guy has a Jumpers Q under his belt!  He's been plagued with one bar in each of our last two runs.

With only two 16" dogs between them, again I had to stuff Kaiser in the crate and grab Secret.  She seemed happy and eager to go, but boy was she slow through the number two tunnel -- I'm pretty certain she didn't trust it anymore following PSJ.  She recovered quickly, at least until the next tunnel.  lol  She came walking out of that one, so I did manage to fit in the front cross with her.  She picked it up and finished nicely well under time, so she got her third and final Q for her very first USDAA title!!  Go Secret, Go!  Let's get the heck out of P1 already so we can play on the fun courses.  lol

We were on the road home by about 4:45.  Aside from a brief severe thunderstorm that we passed through, we thankfully had an uneventful ride home.  Oh, and did I mention that my car no longer lists to the left after having the tire replaced?  Kind of scary to think it was messed up nearly the entire trip this morning....  I'm so thankful we made it through everything okay.  Better than okay, really -- we had a great day!!

Everyone at Think Pawsitive was great, it's a super friendly group of people.  I'm glad I signed up to work because I got to meet several really nice ladies.  I am planning to go back for Saturday of their June trial but haven't decided if I'll take both dogs or just Secret.  Kaiser would make my life so much easier if he would just suck.  lol  It is really so stressful to have both of them running P1, though, and I feel like I'm not doing them any favors to rush them so much.  It might be easier just to hold off with him until Secret is moved up.  We'll see.  I wish I didn't have so much fun running him.

We got home a bit after 7:30 and everyone was so happy to see Luke!  He got to spend the night/day with Grandma & Grandpa.  I know he enjoys his time with them and gets spoiled beyond belief, but it's still nice to have the whole crew back together.  I never did hear if he chased the cows that just moved in....  lol

Oh.  :o(  Not a frame of video.  I figured as much and the camera never came out of the bag.  Honestly, once I was there it never even crossed my mind.  I'm kind of sad that I am completely failing to get their USDAA journey on video.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Web cam fun!

 For some reason I purchased a web cam the other evening on my way home from the shelter.  It's not like I have anyone I feel the need to Skype with or anything, but apparently I thought it would be a good thing to have now that I have a computer at home.

Well, now I did find something fun to do with my web cam!  I made a Ustream channel so that I can check in on the dogs while I'm gone!  The dog door is not in yet, but ever since the dog yard went in and I started leaving the door open, I've been incredibly curious to know if they use it or not.

This is the "embed" link from the channel -- I have no idea what it will put on my blogger page:

Video streaming by Ustream

Or if you ever want to see if anything is live you can simply go to the channel page:

Can you believe the channel name, "What are my dogs doing" was not taken?  Go figure.

Today was the first day I used it and I set it up about five minutes before I had to run out the door (I picked up two shifts at the shelter this week so the dogs are home Thursday & Friday).  I downloaded the Ustream application for my droid and spent my lunch hour watching.... Nothing.  lol  I did see Kaiser briefly.

I had shared the link with my parents in the morning to let them check in on the dogs -- Then I posted it on Facebook at lunch so that everyone could help me watch them.  :o)  Several people checked in and did catch the dogs.  Seems like Kaiser is the one who tends to go in and out the most.

I hit the record button when I left at 8:00, not knowing how long it would actually record.  Turns out three hours is the max, so I've been skipping through to see what went on in that time.  I'm halfway through and there hasn't been too much excitement.  Secret & Kaiser went in and out several times.  The only real oddity is that Kaiser barks when I'm not home!  Kaiser NEVER barks.  Sure he screams when I come home, but a bark?  And I have no idea what he is barking at because the other dogs totally don't react at all.  If he sees something out the window and makes any sort of noise whatsoever it sends everyone into a tizzy.  On the video there was no reaction, so I have no idea what he was doing (he was off camera).  Huh, interesting!

My dad says I should attach the camera to an oscillating fan to get a more interesting show.  :o)  Great idea, but I'm always hesitant to run electronics when I'm not home (except the t.v., obviously).

If you ever check out the channel and see the dogs, let me know what they were doing!

Luke and Kaiser are my dog picture today because Secret is hiding in the bathroom from a storm that is moving through (it's brief, no point in getting out the Thundershirt).  I was glad I got home before it started.  It's not bad, thankfully, and we are getting some very much needed rain!  Good thing is that the weather is supposed to be gorgeous tomorrow so I'll get to leave the door open for the dogs again!

We are headed over to New Berlin, WI for another USDAA trial on Saturday!  Bright and early -- like, REALLY freaking bright and early.  I figure we have to be on the road by 4 a.m.  So awesome.  I'm getting my treats made up tonight because tomorrow I have to shoot to be in bed by 8:00 p.m. or so.  Luke is supposed to be staying with my parents, that is if they decided not to go down to Chicago.  I would feel even worse having him at a trial doing nothing than I do leaving him behind.

I highly, highly doubt I'll get video since I don't actually know anyone at this trial.  That's a bummer.  I'll take the camera along just in case, though!

Secret is entered in all five classes that day -- P1 Standard, Gamblers, Jumpers & Pairs and Performance Speed Jumping.  If she gets Jumpers that will be her first USDAA title!  Kaiser will be running P1 Standard, Gamblers & Jumpers.  When I saw the class numbers I remembered why I was waffling on entering Kaiser.  There are only FOUR P1 dogs at this trial, and two of them are mine.  Sigh.  And once again Secret is a draw for Pairs.  The other two dogs entered are 16" Australian Shepherds belonging to people I've never even heard of.  Hopefully one of them is agreeable to running back to back.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Deja Vu?

Okay, even I have to admit this is getting a bit repetitive.  Don't worry, we WILL move on to something else after this.  We have done nothing but octagon drills/courses for the last week and a half.  It's been partly out of laziness (I left the octagon set after the last course) and partly because I really appreciated the challenge of the courses that Steve at posted.

Tonight we ran through Exercise 4 out of the six posted.  I liked the questions it asked and thought it would be fun -- and hello, it gives you a chance to throw in a Ketschker at jump 10!!  Sweet!

In an attempt to keep the video shorter I didn't include the numerous failed attempts we had.  Secret was just not getting the correct side of number six no matter how I directed from the left of it.  After several attempts we did finally get it, but that would explain the extreme over-handling of that spot on the video.  I'm trying to recall if I even handled it from the right with Secret....  I did this like an hour ago and it's already left my mind.  lol  I need sleep.

Secret did well with the threadle sequence from 9 to 10.  I need to learn to follow through better with my sending cues, though, because she tends to stop short in front of the jump and jerk herself over.

The rest of the course flowed nicely for us and for some reason I kept throwing in a blind cross between 12 and 13.  It worked, but in a trial situation I doubt I would want to take my eyes off her at that point.  I left her behind at number 15 once and totally didn't support her line at all, so Secret went wide on that turn and took 14 on the way to the last jump -- lesson learned and we tightened up that turn nicely on the next go.

Kaiser was happy to jump 4" and did well if you don't count the several times he didn't go in the tunnel (???).  The table was positioned directly behind the tunnel and someone has been getting a VERY HIGH reinforcement rate for the table lately, so I think he heard the "t" of Tunnel and decided I wanted him to do the table instead.  He can be so quirky...

Kaiser did well with jump 6 (when I remembered to take the correct side of it, at least) but really struggled with the threadle.  That was by far the hardest portion for him -- it's tricky coming off a three jump serpentine like that, you know!  He ran the ending very nicely.

Luke even put in a respectable showing on this course.  Maybe we are starting to come together a bit more with our timing on these tighter exercises.  Not enough so that I think he'd ever enjoy running in USDAA, but at least we can have some fun with them in our back yard (where he is more than happy to jump 4").

We had a little excitement in our backyard this evening.  I was just starting to pick poo from the yard when several birds started making a huge ruckus on the other side of the lawn.  I looked over and Kaiser had his nose buried into the fence.  I thought, "Oh darn, he found a baby bird."  When I walked over to check it out, however, I discovered that he had cornered a vole!  It was screaming at him and Kaiser just kept poking at it.  I told him to stop playing with it and after it bit him on the nose (....poor Kaiser...) he did kill it.  I honestly didn't want to deal with its disposal, so I told the dogs to take care of it.

I have since learned that voles apparently don't taste very good, which explains why the dogs just played with it for the next several minutes.  Secret quickly claimed it as her own (greedy girl....) and kept mouthing at its feet and spitting it out.  She acted like she would eat it eventually, so I left her to it while I cleaned up the yard.  That is, until I looked over and saw her starting to roll on it.  Sigh.  You are so gross, Secret.  At that point I went over to pick it up with my pooper scooper and discovered it covered in saliva.  Lovely.  But I guess I can't blame her if they taste as bad as people say.

Yay for killing a rodent that digs up my lawn, dogs!  Keep up the good work!

Monday, May 21, 2012

More Octagon Drills!

Total fail for not having a dog picture in this blog.  Oh well, you get a course photo instead!

This weekend Steve over at came up with a fun set of exercises using the basic set-up of the octagon course that I ran last week.  Steve's courses had a fun level of difficulty and looked like a nice challenge.  Not only that, but Steve asked for people to take video of our attempts and he would post them all on his blog.  I don't know how many people will step up and do it, but you know I'll never turn down a chance to make another training video!  :o)

There were six different patterns to choose from with various levels of difficulty.  Steve thought that two and three were the most difficult and I suppose they were.  They all looked like fun, though, and it was hard to choose.  In the end I settled on the second exercise and decided to focus all of my efforts on learning and running this one course well instead of trying to do multiple drills in one night.

By far the trickiest part of this drill was getting from 9 to 10 without taking the off course jump!!  Apparently my brain also had trouble remember which side I was supposed to take at number four, as I totally didn't even realize I cued the wrong side to Secret when we ran with blind crosses.

We ran with front crosses first.  Both Secret & Kaiser went off to the off course jump between 9 and 10, no surprise there!  Secret's off course was totally my fault because I completely failed to give any deceleration cues.  Aside from that everything went pretty smoothly.  Kaiser did totally crash jump number eight on one of his first turns.  I mean, he TOTALLY crashed it.  That would be why he appears rather hesitant in the beginning portion of the video (I didn't include that run), but thankfully he seemed to work through it and ended well.  He hasn't done that at home for a while, so I was kind of bummed about it.

I made myself run the drill using entirely rear crosses for each dog, too.  Wow, I obviously don't do enough of this type of thing with Secret.  She ran well, but she was constantly checking in with me for direction.  You can tell she's gotten used to me staying in front of her and prefers me to stay there.

Kaiser has been so quirky about rear crosses at trials lately, but he did surprisingly well.  It didn't shock me when he took the off course at 9/10 again.

We were getting pretty cooked, but I went for a run using all blind crosses as well (except from 11 to 12, as blind crosses cue extension and you obviously need collection for that turn!).  Secret is so good at blinds and seems to like them.  I thought for sure I'd lose Kaiser, but the little bugger held it together quite well!

I included Luke's ONE clean effort at the end of the video.  lol  Poor big guy, he tries so hard.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Octagon Drills

 As promised, I ran the octagon drills with the dogs tonight.  It was another warm, 80-degree day and honestly the lawn probably should have been mowed, but I chose to work the dogs instead!

One thing is abundantly clear after doing the drills suggested by Steve at AgilityNerd -- I really need more work with this stuff.  lol  No surprise, though, as I have always been pretty awful at threadles.

Secret was a good girl and tried hard to do what I asked.  As such her speed wasn't up where I would prefer it to be, but she was being careful and was game to do what I directed her to.  She's an honest dog that way and makes it very obvious when I screw up!

 Wee man even held it together to do a bang-up job.  I didn't think he'd do more than two threadles in a row, but I think he actually made it all the way around the circle at least once!

I didn't include it in the video, but at the end I did some straight line stuff through the middle with him to get the speed back up and he zipped right through like a happy little Klee Kai.  I'm really crossing my fingers that he'll be more comfortable at 12" at our trial in a couple of weeks.

The Luke-meister managed to make it into this video.  He was a trooper and tried hard, even managing to make it through a few threadles.  lol  Poor Luke, he thinks life sucks since I started to step away from NADAC.  By the way, I haven't talked about the latest nonsense and I haven't decided yet if I will.  If so, stay tuned because it should be entertaining.  ;o)

I didn't intend to immediately bombard everyone with posts and videos upon getting a computer at home.  lol  No worries, as tomorrow I should probably mow, then I'm at the shelter Thursday night, Friday, Saturday & Sunday.  Poor dogs.  This weekend will be their first real test with the potty yard, as my parents are out of town and my cousin is unable to let them out.  There is rain in the forecast; I hope they are wrong.  The dog door is ordered, but for now all I can do is prop the door open!

Monday, May 14, 2012

That went better than expected!

 It was a gorgeous weekend, but thanks to work obligations and then spending a great evening with my parents on Mother's Day, I wasn't able to take advantage of the lovely weather to play agility.  Thankfully Mother Nature cooperated and today was another beautiful (if warm) day.  It was over 80, that's all I know.  I broke out shorts and a tank top and it was just right.

Last week Steve at AgilityNerd posted a course on his Facebook page that rose a lot of eyebrows.  It was a Danish jumping course from a new online resource for courses:   Sadly, now that I look at it and see it's only a Level 3 (out of what, 5 or more?) I feel less superior.  lol

 The fuss was over using an "octagon drill" in an actual course.  The octagon is a great training tool, but kind of mind blowing for competition use.  Can you even imagine trying to walk a course with everyone milling out in the same small area the whole time?  Yeah, pretty miserable, I think.  Thankfully I don't have to share space with anyone at home and had it all to myself.  Walking it in person was far, far better than it appeared to be on paper.  I still figured we would struggle to avoid off course jumps, though.  The course is at the link I posted above, but I'll insert it here as well.

Once again Secret really impressed me.  The only error she made was a missed weave entry because I set her up too shallow for it.  I mean, look at that weave entry!  It's kind of wicked.  I probably cheated and shaped the entry more than I technically should have with both dogs, but we haven't done a lot of flat entries like that one.  I set them up for success by pulling them to me a bit and then rear crossing.  I did force in a front cross with Secret before the weaves on one try, but it was very awkward and uncomfortable.

The spacing from 10-11-12 was quite tight, just over 10' really, but Secret bounced it nicely the first few times.  She started throwing a short stride in there when she started getting tired.  Considering how warm it was I'm happy she kept playing at all.  :o)

The little man had another good practice as well, again with the jumps set at 12" (well, the first time I took him through I discovered very quickly that jump 7 never got bumped down from 22" -- whoops!!).  Kaiser is VERY VERY prone to taking off course obstacles when they are presented anywhere near his path, so I know I way over-handled him through this course.  That said, I'm still shocked that we got through as well as we did.  I was unable to rear cross the 7-8-9 sequence without an off course, but the front cross on the landing side of 7 worked well.  He cut behind once when I layered the jump between 14 & 15, but other than that he did super great!

I'm getting more comfortable with my new video editing software!  It has lots of nifty features that the old version didn't have and I can do lots of fun things with it.  I haven't even scraped the surface, really.  Fun, fun, fun!  I really need to move my music library onto the new home computer so that I don't have to keep fishing online for free music.  New music is good, though -- Yay for Glee, as they don't restrict on YouTube.  lol

 A gentleman from A-1 Glass in La Crosse came by the house today to measure for our new "in-the-glass" dog door to be installed in the patio window.  We went for the 12" x 24" model due to Luke's size.  It will be interesting to see what the dogs think of it.

Because the weather was nice this weekend, I propped the door open to give the dogs free access to the potty yard while I was at the shelter both days.  My parents still dropped in to check on them Saturday and then picked them up to take them to their house on Sunday so I could go straight up after work.  As such, this wasn't yet a true "all day" test, but I figured it was a good warm up for them.  So far we all seem to be okay with going potty in the small yard, but we will only poop there if forced and it causes a LOT of stress.  As in, blow up the insides stress.

Secret was asking to go out this weekend so I let her out -- with the gate closed, so she had to go in the small yard.  She was whining and started to dig at the bottom of the fence to find a way out.  I yelled at her and told her to go potty.  She did pee at that point, but then went back to trying to find a way out so that she could poo against the back fence line like usual.  I kept insisting that she go there and when she did she kind of exploded.  Lesson learned.  I'm hoping they learn to accept it sooner rather than later.  Although really I only care that the don't go in the house.  If they want to hold it all day until I get home they certainly may, but the hope is that if they have an emergency they will use the stinking little potty yard.  Time will tell, it's still brand new.

Luke had an emergency at 4 a.m. this morning (probably due to the bit of pork rib I fed him at my parent's house).  Someone, I'm guessing Luke, missed the turn into the gate and slammed into the fence, leaving a nice head impression in the wire....  Really hoping they catch on to this soon!  lol

Friday, May 11, 2012

First post from home! :o)

 Yay!  I'm connected!  It's going to be so nice to be able to update regularly from home instead of depending on finding free time at work.  :o)  Especially considering that I highly doubt whatever job I end up finding in the (hopefully) near future will be as understanding about personal internet use.  I figure it's about time I join the 21st Century and get hooked up at home.

Our project of the day is posted above -- the dog yard is done!  Well, as done as it will be until the dog door goes in (measuring on Monday!).  We decided to hold off on the rock for a bit so that the dogs learn to use this space to go potty.  I wasn't sure if asking them to go to the bathroom in an unfamiliar area on an unfamiliar surface was the way to go, so I'll let them figure it out and then add the rock later.  It may be that it would be okay without rock, but ultimately I think it would just be cleaner (especially in the spring!).

The project also included installing lattice around the perimeter of the deck railing.  This would be because a certain little dog fits through the posts and quite enjoys dismounting the deck this way on a daily basis.  Honestly I've never liked that he does this, and we can't have him leaping off the deck and getting stuck out in the yard -- so lattice was the way to go!

I have my dad to thank for all of this.  I am so lucky to have such a handy father who is so good at building stuff!  I wish I could say I did more, but the extent of my participation was to put some staples in the gate and to hold the roll of fence wire.  My parents actually came out and did a lot of the grunt work (putting posts in the ground) on Thursday while I was working at the shelter.  Have I said lately how much my parents rock??

The internet dudes came while we were finishing up the fence project.  The dogs had to get locked in the bedroom, which they so enjoyed.  The install process went better than I expected (I didn't think my house was wired AT ALL, but there was a buried cable in place already) and they were gone before 3:00.  With all that free time on my hands, I decided I may as well test out the video software on the new computer to see if I would be able to work with it with my current equipment.

I set up a Power Paws drill from the recent issue of Clean Run -- A modified Letter H drill with weaves and a tunnel.  I was so uninspired....  I foolishly decided to just go out there without a plan, which never ends well.  As a result, Secret was about as enthusiastic as you'd expect her to be.  That's why there isn't a ton of agility stuff in the video.  lol  Oh well, lesson learned.  I didn't push her terribly hard, either, because shortly before we went out to play she head slammed into the patio window chasing after a fly.  She seemed a little out of it for a bit.  Poor girl.  Klutzy girl...

So yeah, the video isn't much to write home about.  It was more a test run for me to play with the software than anything.  You get to see a tour of the new potty yard in addition to a little agility stuff from all three.  I have a lot to learn with the new software, but we'll get there.  I think I'll be able to figure out how to do trial videos at least, and that's what is most important!  lol

And now I will wait a half hour to publish this.....  My internet speed is faster at home, but the video file is HUGE because I didn't have to convert my mpg to be able to work in this version of WMM.  So yay for higher quality videos, but boo for taking 45 minutes to upload to YouTube.  I'm not used to that!

OH!  Speaking of trial videos (kind of)....  I sent off our entries for the Think Pawsitive trial over Memorial Day weekend.  We will head over just for Saturday (seeing as I'm working at the shelter on Friday & Sunday, ugh).  Secret is entered in EVERYTHING -- five classes -- that will be a big day for her!  I decided to bring Kaiser for another test.  I think I put him in Standard, Gamblers and PSJ.  Interesting conversation after I posted to the Clean Run list about his jumping issues.  Linda Mecklenberg, herself, believes he may have ETS.  Huh.  I figured that wasn't even on the list!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Baby Got Back

 I was sooooo tired last night.  Words cannot express how much I wanted to sit on the couch watching movies and eating ice cream all night.  It was a lovely evening, though, and the dogs hadn't gotten to do much of anything lately due to all the rain we've been getting (I heard on the news this morning that we apparently went 10 days in a row with measurable precipitation -- no wonder it seemed like it rained every day, lol).  I had grabbed my video camera off my desk on a whim as I left work, so I decided to go ahead and make myself set something.

Now that I'm back on the Clean Run subscription trane, I figured the Backyard Dogs drill from the most recent (May 2012) issue was as good as anything.  I briefly considered setting one of the International style Jumpers courses I've been sitting on for a while, but that would have been WAY too much work.  ;o)  This particular Backyard Dogs set only required seven jumps and that worked for me.  I had fun using my course setting skills for this one (there were no related distances anywhere) and think I got it set pretty nicely.

The focus of this set was entirely on finding the backside of the jump.  Some of the drills were super screwy and didn't appeal to me at all.  I'm all for pushing myself out of my comfort zone and learning new skills, but I thought a few of the exercises would just be very demotivating -- particularly for Kaiser.  I chose to work on exercises three, four and five.  There was no way my brain was going to be able to retain more than that.  As it was, I almost decided to just learn one at a time because I was struggling so much.  The dogs seem to do better getting everything done at once (vs. coming out three times), so I just plugged away and somehow managed to learn all three drills.  I think I even got the courses right this time and didn't take any jumps from the wrong side.  I think... No promises because I get so confused by these things!  :o)

I went in order this time, although I hardly found any of the drills from this set "easy."  That considered, the dogs really did a nice job.  We haven't done a ton of work on sending to the back sides of jumps, so I wasn't sure what to expect.  I know that this style of work is up Secret's alley.  I more worried that it would completely blow Kaiser's mind, but he held it together and did very well.

I handled the opening of Drill 3 the same way in both runs, starting with the dog on my left and then a front cross after three, before five and after six.  Still with me?  lol  I know, it's hard to follow.  I handled the close of 7-8-9 in two different ways, first using a post turn to keep me on the inside of 7-8 and then a bit of a combo front cross wrap followed by a rear cross at eight.  Honestly I expected the second maneuver to work better due to my dogs' general dislike of post turns, but both dogs drove through the turn much better using the post turn.  Go figure.

I chose drill four because I know that this set-up (the backside of number two) is very difficult for us.  We have not had a lot of success in the past with this configuration!  Really, aside from that it's just a bunch of push-throughs and Secret is pretty comfortable with those, assuming I'm actually in position.  Kaiser is getting better with them, but still handles them better than threadles.

Secret surprised me and didn't have any issues whatsoever with finding number two.  I did completely fail to support the third jump on our first try; probably because I was still marveling over her success at the second jump.  lol  I did better on the second try, but then I forgot that I was planning to do more of a send from six to seven to allow me to be in a better position to support the push through from eight to nine -- so that was a little awkward.  I did better the next time.

On Kaiser's first shot he went over jump eight instead of two.  Not surprising.  He did come to heel when released the second time, but we had a little discussion over what side of the jump to take.  After that he seemed to figure out really well and did a great job.  He did totally blow off my "come" from seven to eight the first time through there, but that's pretty typical for him.  I exaggerated my rotation after that and he got it, although his first push through was pretty herky-jerky since I was more or less in his way.

Any issues we experienced in the third run were entirely because my brain was fried.  lol  I REALLY struggled to commit this one to memory, to the point where I almost bagged it.  I think I edited out over two minutes on video of me standing there during Secret's turn, trying to figure out what the third one was again.  She happily gnawed away at her Udder Tug the entire time.

Again, this drill worked on more of the same skills.  Two to three was a nice 270 followed by a push through to four.  I did a front cross, an inside wrap and a rear cross wrap in the 5-6-7 sequence and undeniably the front cross worked the best.  I was able to blind cross between eight and nine for Secret, but I don't tend to like to use those with Kaiser (seems like any time I take my eyes off the little fart he runs off to the hinter lands for an off course obstacle).  For Secret I was able to stay on the inside for 9-10-11, but Kaiser was very prone to taking the back side of 11 (an issue probably made more likely by the evening's exercises), so it worked best for him to put in a front cross between 10 and 11.  I hadn't even tried that in Secret's run since it was a non-issue for her, but in a trial situation the front cross is surely the safer option.

 After everyone was done, I let Secret do her favorite thing -- Sprawl out in frog-dog style and chew on her Jolly Ball.  She's like a crack addict with that thing lately.  I've almost given up on trying to keep her from stealing it out of the garage.  They are all becoming naughty little thieves -- Kaiser likes to take Luke's red Jolly Ball out of the box to chew on and torment Luke.  Poor Luke.

By the way, I did attempt these exercises with Luke and it went as well as I thought it would.  I thought of making a video showing all the reasons why Luke will NOT be playing in USDAA, but I haven't gotten around to it yet.  lol  He tries so hard, bless him, but this stuff is just not for him.

 I set all of Kaiser's jumps at 12" last night and the little fart did great.  He was a good little jumper, even with these "stressful" type courses.  I guess one can hope that if we keep working on this type of stuff at home, maybe he won't find USDAA courses stressful and thus, might jump better at trials?  Who knows.  As frustrating as the situation is, I am happy to see that he CAN, in fact, jump quite nicely at home.

Like I mentioned earlier, I got video!  And like all Backyard Dogs drills, the bonus is that it all fits nicely into a smaller space for good stationary video footage.  :o)



Hopefully your internet speed is faster than mine today.....  But oh!  I am having internet installed at home on Friday that is about 100x faster than at the office.  I look forward to blogging from home in the near future!  I'm a little more apprehensive about video production since I've gotten so comfortable with my system at work (seriously, I can bang these suckers out super fast!).  The new computer comes with Windows Movie Maker, but it's a much different version than what I'm used to.  I just hope all of the equipment is compatible.  My dad said that he can't get his phone to connect with his Windows 7 software.  :o(  That would suck, considering that's where all of my pictures come from!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Bonus Course!

At the trial on Saturday the Starters & Advanced participants were given a "bonus course" on their print-outs.  There was a bit of confusion since only Masters Jumpers was on the schedule for that day.  I enjoyed the courses that Tim Verrelli brought for us, so I thought it would be fun to take this one home and run to see what he had in store for us, would we have ran Jumpers that day!

Considering it's a Starters/P1 course it wasn't terribly technical or challenging, but we had fun with it.  Honestly, I don't know that I would have had it in me to set/run anything more complicated last night.  lol  As it was, I set this when we got home and then went and sat in the house for a good half hour before bringing out my first dog (Secret -- why is Secret always first?).

I made a point to handle it several different ways.  The opening sequence could be handled entirely from the right with a long enough lead-out (which even Kaiser gave me -- apparently pulling him off that course on Sunday made a big impact!).  Or one could run with the dog and opt for a rear cross from four to five.  Secret's preferred handling was a front cross between three and four, no surprise.  Front crosses always seem to get the most speed from her.

That theme pretty much held throughout.  I made myself run the course entirely with rear crosses once and she was noticeably slower.  She still maintained decent speed, but there was certainly an appreciable difference from when I stayed in front.

Overall I was very happy with her speed.  I think she even bounced 7 to 8 a few times.

I staggered my final line a bit more than pictured on the map to up the difficulty some.  I was behind by a bit the first time and Secret totally didn't see the final obstacle.  A rear cross at 14 (which was the tire in my case) helped solve that, as did making sure I was able to get into position for the push.

It was a warm evening and Secret did great with the jumps at 22".  She knocked 13 once, but I believe that was her only bar of the night.

I ran Kaiser at 12" to get a comparison of how he jumped this weekend vs at home.  Sure enough he was awesome.  I can't say that the Adequan hasn't helped him, because I do feel that he is faster and smoother at home now.  He didn't have a single hitch the entire night and was really jumping beautifully.  I just keep coming back to the fact that so many of his jumping issues are mental.

I brought it up to my vet at our appointment this morning and he mentioned doing an experiment with an anti-anxiety medication.  I'm not thrilled about the idea of medicating my dog for agility -- especially since it's a full time every day drug, not something I could just give him the morning of a trial.  I can't deny that it would be interesting to see what it did, but I happen to like Kaiser's quirkiness and am loath to drug him to possibly get more clean runs -- especially since he rarely stresses at 8" anymore.

I did try a "calming" essential oil on him many trials ago when there was a vendor at the trial.  All it did was give me a headache, so I don't plan on going that route with him again.  Ultimately, he eventually got over his issues in NADAC and maybe he'll do the same with USDAA.  Hard to say, especially since I've more or less decided that if I go over to New Berlin at the end of the month I'll just take Secret.  Have to send those entries next week if I'm going.  I wish I wasn't so broke.