Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Squeewok

This is Cocoa.

She weighs less than 10 pounds.

She's a super amazing flyball heightdog in the making.

Her mom (whom I call Jbiz) and I are super excited about training her.

She's a Havanese-ish, she looks like a Squirrel X Ewok mix...

She is the Squeewok.

More updates to follow!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Remember To Breathe

In agility last night i learned an important lesson: keep breathing. But we'll get to that in a second.

First in Trophy and Pan's class, we worked on a really interesting course made up of lots of perpendicular jumps. The first half of the class was pretty straightforward but with a tricky lead out over a jump and into the weaves. Pan is still improving on her weaves, despite not having practiced them at home in a few weeks. She didn't need a food lure last night, although she's not yet fluid or controlled, and in fact sometimes i think she still has no idea what she's doing.

Green Star indicates where the turn on the flat was.  And as usual, not to any scale what-so-ever.
However, instead of shutting down today, despite me losing my own focus and showing more disappointment in her than i should, she got the zoomies on the course. She ran through the tunnel under the dogwalk twice and then took off, ignoring my direction, and bypassed the course to zoom through the tunnel in the corner a few times. My instructor and I both agreed, i would rather have the silly setter zoomies than a meltdown. At least she was having FUN.

The second half of the course involved a much trickier maneuver followed by a wild ride around the ring. First (obstacles 8 through 14) involved a 3 jump pinwheel back into a tunnel in the corner, over the last jump in the pinwheel again and to the a-frame. We spent several minutes talking about our options for running this sequence and how to take jump 11 and be in position for a good A-frame entry after 13), and i ultimately decided to (listen to my instructor) and stay on the inside of the pinwheel, do a turn on the flat after the third jump (green star) to send Trophy to the tunnel and stay on the a-frame side of the jump to call him back to me and then wrap him around my body to give him a straighter entry to the a-frame. It worked really well for Trophy, i had to try twice with Pan since she's so much faster and less methodical than Trophy.

After the a-frame was our wild ride around all of the jumps in a big 'U' shape around the ring (15-20). It was insane, but other than losing Trophy up the dogwalk instead of having him follow me to the last jump, i actually managed to keep up with him. Pan was similar, but the tunnel under the dog walk sucked her in.

All in all it was a interesting challenge tonight, and i survived day 2 of running both dogs.

Now on to Demo's class and breathing lessons.

Last week it was suggested i try teaching him a nose target behavior to teach him a more independent stop into his 2o2o. So all week we worked on that, first teaching him to touch a lid, then longer touches, then off the couch into 2o2o with nose touches, then down the stairs into 2o2o with nose touches. (It worked REALLY well for him and he picked up it right away on both the dogwalk and the a-frame!)

We once again split up the class. We were on the dog walk first, twice on leash then once off leash to practice contacts. Then we worked on a mini sequence. Double jump to the table, then to the dog walk.

This is where i need to breathe.

Demo is so fullspeedahead!! it scares me and I'm super tense and i stop breathing when i get to the line with him. I really need to take a video of him next week so i can try to convey some of my terror. Trophy trots calmly down the dog walk, Pan sometimes trots, sometimes has a slow controlled lope down the dog walk.... Demo? Demo RUNS (flyball style) down the damn thing and it freaking scares me to death. He does slow down on the descent, and he is hitting and holding his contacts, but it makes me crazy nervous. One wrong footfall and he's flying off into the wall.

When we switched, we worked on the a-frame. 2 reps on leash, one off leash, then mini sequences. This time it was jump, a-frame, tunnel and then the reverse. He doesn't scare me nearly as much on the a-frame as he does on the dog walk.

Lastly we finished up with some handling over jumps, pinwheels and pinwheel into a front cross.


Friday, March 22, 2013

I Survived!

Yesterday was my first night running all 3 of my dogs without my sister in class (she is doing well after her surgery and is settling in for a looong recovery). I have been petsitting since Saturday so i was expecting the dogs to be crazy, having not really spent time with me since Saturday (i did pick Trophy and Pan up in the morning and took them to work so they wouldnt be totally wired), but they all did very well.

The course setup for Trophy and Pan was delightful. It was just challenging enough that i could really settle in and run the dogs without having to worry about any tricky handling spots. I could have done without both Trophy and Pan trying to run the teeter like it was the dogwalk with no reasonable explaination (i even told Pan to ease up, but she still ploughed right on through and went flying). Luckily neither was really phased by it, and while i didnt keep my head enough to cheer, i didnt gasp or do anything to make the event tragic in their little brains.

When we put the course together Trophy ran clean in a really nice run. I love love love running my boy. Pan's run was also nice, except she backed out of the a row. She's so weird. Otherwise her run was really nice. Still working on her weaves, but they are coming along nicely and i'm happy with her progress, when her head is screwed on right she's so much fun to run.

Demo's class was also really good! I finally felt like we clicked. We worked on the dog walk some more, changing our training plan with him on the contact obsticles, going to add a target for him to nosetouch at the end to teach him to stop since i can not get ahead of him on the dog walk.

Then worked some sequencing, jump to a curved tunnel then another jump. Easy. Worked on startline stays, front crosses and blind crosses. Finally felt like he looked to me for a little bit of direction, success in that if nothing else. Then we worked on the a-frame, which i can get ahead of him on, that was much better. He was getting tired (resting his head on my lap while waiting for our turn) and i could definitely see him looking to me instead of just charging ahead.

As my instructor said, "he's having fun!" Lol.

Totally love my kids, so very lucky to have them.

Tomorrow starts our Intro to Flyball Class, really excited for it! Putting the finishing touches on my class plan tonight, then heading to bed early.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Happy Anniversary!

somehow i totally missed that i (re)started this blog a year ago! Thanks so much for reading!

Nothing Middle Of The Road About Pan

Agility on Thursday was the same set up as last week with one change, the teeter was in the opposite direction. The first half of our course was jump, dogwalk, down to the evil jump that made Pan fall apart last week. if she was going to repeat last weeks performance it was going to happen early, but she was a total rockstar! From there we did the teeter to the near side of the tunnel under the dog walk, jump to the tunnel, jump, weaves, a-frame.

I wanted to do a front cross on the landing side of the jump after the second tunnel. i was able to get some distance on Pan and really send her from the first tunnel over the jump and to the second tunnel, but when she stuttered before taking the second tunnel i pulled up in anticipation of having to get closer and redirect her and then she took the tunnel anyway and while she still took the jump after the tunnel i was not in the right position to complete the cross and we almost collided.

It was so beautiful and fun! Oh i wish we had been able to pull it off! I tried again, but once she got the pattern she was waay faster than me even as i was cutting through the course and pushing her around the outside!

Trophy did well, although he was slower than usual. i couldnt watch most of his run because if we accidently make eyecontact he loses his connection with Tasha (but that wont be a problem next week as i'm running all the dogs by myself). Trophy had, in a very unusual act, counter surfed the night before, and truly horriffic diarrhea before class. I took him out after his slow run and three poo bags worth of diarrhea later, he was a bit faster. (He also threw up a thick rubberband, the kind that comes on raw broccoli, early Friday morning and was truly miserable all day. He layed around and moped all day long. He was perkier this morning).

In Demo's class things got hairy. We split the class up and half of us worked on sequences with the dog walk, and the other half sequences with the a-frame.

We worked the a-frame first. It was a disaster. Mainly, i think, because Demo (really most of the dogs) couldn't see our helper who was in position to reward our dogs when they hit their contacts in time to really stop and understand the exercise. We did a sequence of tunnel - jump - a-frame. The first time i just did it, Demo totally blew off his contact as he was moving so damn fast over the a-frame. Didnt even blink at her. So the second time i did a Reverse flow pivioty move to collect him before the A-frame, and i tried to lure him over more and stop him in the 2o2o... but apparently that wasnt the point of the exercise (? That's how i taught Trophy and he's doing awesome?). We didnt get to try again and i didnt get to clarify why we are doing it differently.

When we switched to the dog walk, we did one rep of just the dog walk in either direction with the dogs still on leash (to keep them slower and controlled) then we did dogwalk to a jump and lastly jump dogwalk. I was terrified of Demo killing himself. Our instructor was again in position to "catch" him in the 2o2o at the end of the dogwalk, it worked much better (IMHO) because the dogs could see her before stopping. I almost fainted, especially on the second rep of jump to the dogwalk as Demo totally RAN the dog walk, but he got the contact thanks to our instructor being there.

There's so much that is different between Trophy/Pan's beginner class and this class, it's hard for me to figure some things out. I feel like i'm not in control of Demo at all... i feel like even though we've done sequencing and some handling, i'm not really feeling like I'm HANDLING him. The team work isnt there yet.

We have much to learn.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Earning A Paycheck

The Cost Of Not "Over Vaccinating"

This article was just shared by a facebook friend of mine:

A dog in florida contracted rabies because he wasn't given a rabies vaccine for SEVEN years. Two other dogs in the house had to be PTS because they had NEVER been vaccinated.

If you don't want to over vaccinate, then get the 3 year rabies and when your dog is an adult don't get Bord/DHLPP/etc unless it is required by your boarding facility or organizations you belong to (therapy orgs require vaccines). If your vet doesn't give the 3 year vaccine go to a vet that does, and get the vaccine ever 3 years as required by law. Can't afford vaccines? Go to a low cost clinic!

I only give Rabies and DHLPP to my dogs and both are 3 year vaccines, we get them done by a low cost vet an hour away because it's very cheap and worth the drive.

So sad that this was so easily prevented!!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Flyball: Of Demo Drama and Lexi Meltdowns

I was lucky enough to have two flyball practices this weekend.  First up was our normal team practice Saturday.  I was not really looking forward to this practice as it felt like I was pulling teeth trying to get people there.  We had 4 people there, and a boxloader, which was really nice.  Got some good boxwork done with Trophy.  But then Demo's turn was all double hits on the box.  This is bad because it really slows him down.  If I'm going to speed him up his turn MUST get better.

So I was really happy when I got invited to a practice with some people from a fast team from Michigan who would be able to help me out with this.  It also helps to give me more stuff to work on in this upcoming class so I can help students if they stick through enough to actually run with us (and I'm pretty much like MUST.LEARN.ALL.THE.THINGS!).

Broken Collie.
But before we get there... Saturday night Demo slid after a tennis ball on the carpet in the living room and skinned both his back feet.  I was like, you've just got to be kidding me.  I have never wrapped his back feet at practice, and he didn't do this until HOURS after we got home.... and on CARPET?!  I bandaged his feet with some antiseptic so they wouldn't get muddy outside, then I unwrapped them overnight, and rewrapped them Sunday morning so we could make it to the practice.  Luckily his feet didn't bother him... although since I had to run to work right after I haven't unwrapped them yet, so who knows what they look like.

At practice we started with Demo and trying to find the right combination of props to help him.  They tried several different things, but nothing really seemed to help.  They said it was a striding issue, but also that he "is weird" and they hadn't quite nailed down the issue yet.

Fast forward to his second time in the ring, he was taking off too soon for the jumps and that was where the issue was coming from.  We put a 3 inch wide slat from the jumps across the lane at the 4 foot mark (and they said you can even put one at 14 feet out)  to essentially gear him up into a 10 foot stride before he even hits the jumps (6 feet from first jump to the start line, plus 4 feet to make another 10 feet).

Once we did that his box issues basically disappeared.

And then he pooped in the lane. >_<

Trophy was another story...  We worked more on getting him to pop off the box faster (I need to start calling him WAAAAAAAAY earlier than I do - when he lands after the 4th jump before the box, not when he takes off for the box).

I also learned that while he has a pretty turn with no ball, he also takes off for the box from too far back, and while his two footed turn isn't perfect, he's pivoting enough that it shouldn't be dangerous.

So I'm really not doing much harm by continuing to run him... although I think I'm going to try to get him to turn nicely without props while still taking the ball with up close work and slowly moving him back to speed (versus their method of alwaysalwaysalwaysalways use props unless it's an official heat) and see what we get.

All in all it was an awesome weekend.  I'm so thankful for all my dogs give me.

Now we just have to heal the Broken Collie before Agility on Thursday....

Woe is the Broken Collie.
(BTW, despite all her issues in agility, Pan rocks at flyball, and I have nothing to report on her because she's practically perfect.)

Agility: Of Demo Drama And Panda's Meltdown

I think it is an understatement to tell you that my last two weeks have been bad. With two of our owners on vacation at work, right after they hired 3 new people (who weren't anywhere near fully trained), not to mention firing someone right before they left, the schedule had us *barely* staffed correctly. Then add onto that a coworker with the flu, and another who is pregnant, and no one on call to help out if anything happened. Oh, and what felt like a billion dogs in the building two different days last week, and i worked 6 days in a row instead of 5.

To say that i was stressed was an understatement. Thursday was a culmination of all things bad. I was looking forward to agility and my weekend (I'm usually off Fridays and Saturdays).

My sister has been off on Thursdays for the past several months, so i take Trophy and Pan to work with me, and then she brings Demo up with her since he's not comfortable with strange dogs enough to go to work with me any more.

So we meet in the small lobby of the building about 10 minutes before the previous class gets out. Demo is always super excited to see me, and he lets out his high pitched excited yip. Next thing we know a black dog from the class before ours comes tearing out of the agility room, teeth bared, snarling, and makes a beeline right for Demo. Tasha still has Demo's leash, she's spinning trying to not get bit while trying to get Demo out of the way and somehow grab the other dog, I'm screaming and trying to keep Trophy and Pan out of it, so I literally can't do anything to help, then the dog's owner flies in and full body tackles his dog. Luckily Dem didn't have a scratch on him, just some slobber.

My sister said that this same dog lunged at Demo before in passing one day when I was running late. My instructor said the dog is in play groups all the time and has never shown any aggression before, there is just clearly something about Demo he/she/it doesn't like.

So after my horribly stressful week, I now have two hours of agility where I'm afraid my already not dog-friendly Demodog might go off the deep end if anything gets in his space. I kenneled him for the first hour to relax.

Then I had to suffer through the biggest Panda Meltdown to date. The first half of the course was deceptively easy*- all the obstacles around the outside of the room (1-9) with one front cross after the A-frame. Pan ran this part really well, except she blew off her 2o2o.  I knew the first half was too good to be true and the second half was going to be torture - it was.

From the weaves we went into this extremely demotivating loop: (10-15) jump, tire, teeter - circle, back to the first jump and the tire again then straight to the next jump. After the teeter we had to send the dogs to that first jump again and cross to be on the outside of the tire. While trying to get my cross in the right place with help from my instructor (i always cross to close to the obstacle the dog is taking instead of giving myself room by making the cross closer to the next obstacle in the sequence) Pan's brain fell off the deep end. Something about that first jump (3/10/13) just melted her fragile mind. My instructor couldn't get her to run, Tasha couldn't get her to run, she just shut down and went into avoidance behavior overdrive.

Probably a lot of it was having to do it over and over so I could try to get my cross right, but even after we got her doing some jumps at the other side of the room if she went back down in that corner as soon as I cued that jump she wouldn't take it and she would go back into shut down mode.  UGH!  I was so discouraged by the end of it that we just stopped running her for the day as I wasn't able to give her the positive feedback she needed.

Next week is another day to try again, and that's all I can say at this point as I don't know what else to do... and work on my handling skills with Trophy while working on just Pan's skills with Pan.

I guess in that aspect I'm looking forward to my sister being off for a few months so I can work both dogs.  I can get my handling down with Trophy and then help Pan's motivation separately.  It's going to kick my ass, but if running 3 dogs in agility and 3 dogs in flyball doesn't help me get skinny by fall I don't know what will. ;)

Now, as for Demo, he actually did really well in class.  I put a gate up between us and the dog next to us as she is very sweet but almost too friendly and she always wants to come see what everyone else is doing.  Demo had no problems focusing on me.  Thank goodness for THAT single trait in him, or whatever training I did to get him there!!

In class we worked a bit on weaves, and contacts on a low a-frame and low dog walk.  Then the second half of class we worked some sequencing and crosses.  Demo refused the tunnel at first, so I had to warm him up to that.  And of course the little stinker is so darn FAST that it is very hard to get a front cross when I have to guide him into the tunnel and then try to beat him to the other side for the cross.   Hopefully next week will be better as i did a few reps of sending to a tunnel at flyball practice.  Even set a box up next to the tunnel for some discrimination and he got it.  Went to the tunnel every time and I was able to send him from about 15 feet.  WOO!  Hope we do crosses with the tunnel again next week, I bet it will be a lot better!