Sunday, August 18, 2013

Going The Distance

I remember a few months ago we were working on a jump sequence in class that was basically a big 'U' around the perimeter of the building. It required a send to a jump on the 'bottom' of the 'U' so that with my fast dogs I could scramble to get ahead of them as the second jump after the send was an off set tire.

I remember that Trophy, of course, with his 18+ months of training nailed it perfectly... Demo on the other hand, not so much. Demo let me send him over the jump once... then refused to send the rest of the time. Forcing me to babysit that jump and never letting me get far enough ahead of him that I could get him through the tire without him spinning into me and back talking.

Then I compare that class to Demo now.

What a difference time makes. Demo is mastering the send, especially to tunnels and jumps and he's pretty good about sending to the dog walk consistently as long as there isn't a tunnel sucker right there.

He is so fast it really helps to be able to trust him to get out and do his job now. He has also learned that this is a team sport, and he checks in with me more for direction. Of course, he's also a lot more barky on course when he thinks I'm doing it wrong.

we even tried to send him to the teeter... however since I usually collect his royal barkyness and guide him onto the teeter, I think he took the send like it was the dog walk, despite having done the teeter already, and he almost flew off the end. Put him in again and he jumped off. Put him on again and he c.r.a.w.l.e.d. down it into 2o2o. Good boy.

Trophy was especially animated in class this week, I think he really liked the trial He was so enthusiastic about taking the course and ran the dog walk instead of poking along at the top like he usually does... until I had to crush his happy thought for walking out of his 2o2o on the dog walk AGAIN. It was still really nice to see his happy attitude especially since I almost dropped him from agility last year when he moped thru the class so much. Apparently we both like running agility together now. <3

Friday, August 9, 2013

Hearts On The Line

Can I just start by saying WE DID IT!

Trophy's first agility trial is in the books.

I could not be more proud of my boy.

The opening in Nov JWW sucked. Two jumps into a very tricky weave entry right next to an off course jump. After that it was smooth sailing... but on top of my first show nerves, I had tricky sequence nerves and Trophy read me like a book and missed the weave entry, but thankfully did not take the off course so we corrected and sailed through the rest. He looked to take a second off course, but turned to my call and we finished perfectly.

Q and First Place in Novice A JWW!

I cried. Cause I'm a sap like that and this dog is my world. :)

My agility instructor gave me the best compliment of my dog handling life, and I owe her for everything I've accomplished with my boy in this sport thus far (which isn't much, yet, lol.)

long wait before our standard run.  Watched an awesome Master/Excellent JWW course most of the day.

Finally time for Trophy's Standard run.  I had a plan in my head and as I'm trying to execute it during the walk through and seeing all these other people running the course to babysit their dogs (which was necessary for some of them, watching the runs) I just shook my head at myself for the breif second I thought "should I dumb this down?" and ran the opening like it was a much more difficult course in class.  I worked my contacts to get into position, I used distance and the fact my dog knows his job in the tunnel to do a really pretty front cross over a jump to prevent an off course up the A-frame and take the teeter instead.

Q and Second Place in Novice A Standard!

We had our issues which cost us the first place.... like stopping on top of the A-frame, walking off his dog walk contact to sniff at the rubber pellets, and a very almost off course back into the tunnel....

But there was SO much more there I am absolutely beaming over.  Like his weave entrance.  His A-frame contact once he came down from the top.  And god I am still beaming over the broad jump, tunnel, front cross on the landing of the double I mentioned earlier.  I was the scariest and most rewarding thing Trophy and I have ever done together.

I love this dog.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Noob's Guide to Flyball: Chapter 3: Letting Him Fly a guest blog by Matty

The hardest part for anyone running a dog in flyball is trusting your dog to do his job.  This can be twice as challenging (i imagine) if you haven't participated in or witnessed the training process and are running someone else's dog.

Ok so for the third installment of my noob's guide the executive decision was made (Lex) that I should talk about “letting Dem fly” … which is still something I have to actively think about during tournaments. In a nutshell what this consists of is that while I am lining up with Demo and waiting for my cue to send him on his way, I hold him by the hips. It’s the easiest spot to hold the kid for how he lines up. What my horrible habit is with this is that when I let him go I don’t just let him go, I push him a little bit too.

Now the initial thought here is one of a push start, like an extra boost for him. Bueno, right? WRONG. What it does in all actuality is it slows him down because while I AM pushing him forward I am also holding onto him that much longer than I should be and that in turn slows him down and adds time on to our starts. No bueno.

One of the peeps on the team, Lori, told me I was doing this and told me how to release Dem properly. Essentially it was as simple as actively thinking about what I was doing while I let him go. I wasn't supposed to be pushing him, but just pulling my arms away from him so I could “let him fly” as she said.  So its something I have to constantly work on whenever I get the chance to with him.  It’s one of those things I have to mentally check myself on every time we race (one of many) and if I push him then either Lori and/or Lex will for sure call me out on it. I don’t think I've ever had a race where one of them wasn't present.

That’s a shot of me letting him fly,  and as you can see Demo is a good 7-8 feet away from me already and I’m taking off at my jog/sprint after him. Zoom zoom.  
I wish I had a picture of me pushing him from when I starting this addiction but I didn't have anyone to take pictures then and I really don’t want to have to push him on purpose just for photo’s sake.

For those of you who are proponents of the “push” method and not the “fly” method, please consider this. You wouldn't push a car while the driver is flooring the gas pedal would you? And yes, Demo IS that fast… I mean his name is Demolition for a reason, come on.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Eevee's Death Wish

Thursday July 25 started out normal enough,  took Eevee to work with me.  Tasha was going to drop off Demo and Trophy for me before agility and take Eevee home.  Well, she made plans with a friend so my Dad brought up the boys and I sent Eevee home with him.

At 11 or 11:30pm she started trying to throw up and couldn't bring anything up.

I took her outside and she peed, then she refused the treat I gave her for coming inside.  Eevee never refuses treats.  I picked her up and that's when I felt how absolutely bloated she was.  Her chest was puffed out and everything inside her rib cage felt like it was about to burst.  Her abdomen wasn't as bloated, but she was definitely feeling stuffed.

I freaked out.

I woke up my mom, I woke up my sister and we rushed her to the emergency vet.

She tried 6 times to vomit on the way to the vet and couldn't bring anything up.

The vet took her back to get some x-rays and this is what we found:

The red circled area is her stomach. You can see it literally trying to squeeze out between her ribs.

It turns out that despite already having fed E dinner at work, but my father took the Kong Wobbler I have and FILLED IT TO THE BRIM with dog food (it holds about 3 cups) and gave it to Eevee to go to town... and didn't tell me.

OMFG I was so mad.  $300 emergency vet bill because no one can stop feeding the puppy.  She weighs 22 pounds!  She only eats 1 cup of food TOTAL a day!!

My sister volunteered to stay up all night with E.  Good thing too, as she started vomiting up food after we got home... and of course the pig would IMMEDIATELY try to gobble everything back down if you didn't clean it up instantly.

I took over at 8am.  This is what her night looked like, let me just say it wasn't much better for me all day until about 6pm:

It was hell.

Now, Eevee is fine and appears to have no long term ill affects... other than she is ALWAYS HUNGRY AND SCAVENGING FOR ANYTHING THAT MIGHT POSSIBLY SORT-OF RESEMBLE FOOD.

On Wednesday she climbed up onto the table in the sun room to chow down on cat food.

Thursday night she was outside for 5 minutes, came inside and puked up a large amount of DIRT.

This kid is going to kill herself........and now I have to go invest in a basket muzzle for her to wear any time she's not IN HER FREAKING KENNEL.


It is a damn good thing she's so freaking cute.

Friday, August 2, 2013

One week to go...

Trophy's agility debut is one week away.

I know I have been quiet for the month of July, but everything has been going really, really well.

I feel like our handling has really come together.  His obstacle discrimination is really nice.  We did this sequence two weeks ago.

Demo has a ton of problems with this (wheeeeeeeee tunnel!), but Trophy executed it perfectly every time.

I had been having trouble with him popping out of the last weave pole or two if I tried to get some distance with him, but tonight was no problem with that.

He still doesn't have a truly independent Stopped Contact.  He knows 2o2o, but if i don't stop and turn into him he won't stop.  Tried this tonight when I tried to get a head of him on the dog walk.  If I kept moving, so did he despite whatever cue I gave him.

All in all he is totally ready for our debut next weekend, I just have to keep myself together.

Tonight Demo really shined on course.  It wasn't an extremely challenging course, there was a couple handling moves to be executed, but other than an extremely tricky weave entry, it was pretty straight forward.  Demo really nailed it tonight, better than I feel he had been getting handling cues.  I was especially impressed with his ability to suddenly take jumps at a distance, something we really struggled with at the beginning of the month.

I feel like the light bulb is finally turning on in his head with weaves, and with his contacts.  It's less mindless following of a treat and he's starting to understand the behaviors more.

Although we need to revisit turns on the flat...

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Noobs Guide to Flyball: Chapter 2: Box Loading Where Right is Left and Left is Right.... Right? A Guest Blog By Matty

Welcome to our second installment of a Noob's Guide to Flyball. Boxloading is probably the most important and least talked about aspect of flyball. After all, you can't play flyball without a boxloader. It takes a lot of guts to be the boxloader, I mean, would you like to face this coming down the lane at you

(and Trophy is my most mild running dog!) Here to tell you all about it from the perspective of "hey, you've been to one practice and we need you to boxload this tournament... here you go!" Take it away, Matty! 

Ok so this time I’m going to talk about box loading. Oh the joys of box loading, its kind of a scary and daunting task when you think about it. I mean you have to realize that the dogs are trained to turn off one side of the box. So you must know which way the dog will turn so you can put the ball on the correct side of the box. And if you screw this up or totally forget to even put the ball in the box, then congratulations! you have probably given that heat of the race to the other team. Both of which I have done, and cursed myself out in my head for. 

Now the prime example of me doing comes from the most recent tournament, Lex was starting with Pan and in the second heat Lex nailed a perfect start! She also did this squeee thing she does when she gets excited. And I, being the curious turd I am, directed my eyes at the clock. 0.000, and in the moment that it took to complete that I had completely missed reloading the box and Trophy had come and hit the empty box. Since I had forgotten to load the box, Trophy didn't have a ball and we took a no finish for the heat and the perfect start didn't count. And if you are on a team like mine that is about running clean heats and less about being the fastest then it might not be the end of the world but let’s be honest, we all have that little bit of competitive spark that flares up sometimes. (Mucho props to Lex for not killing me on the spot, there will be many white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies from me in your future!)

Now from my understanding the dogs turn either left or right (as the box we use only has two positions, one on either side to retrieve the ball from). What that means is that the ball either goes on the right or left. So the dog either turns right or left, feel free to say “duh”. What needs to be explained after saying the dogs turn right or left is that if you are box loading that you need to reverse the right’s and left’s because you are facing the dog. What that means is that when the dog is running toward you and he or she turns to the left, it means that he/she is actually turning to your right. WOMP WOMP!  

[Lexi's note: Pretty clear as mud, right? Basically you have to think of things in terms of DOG'S left or right and BOXLOADER left and right - they are opposite. If the dog turns left it means BOXLOADER right. Still clear as mud? Welcome to boxloading :)] 

 So how does anyone keep all this info straight? I personally keep a list on my phone that I copied from Lex of the dogs and which way they turn (from the dog’s point of view). It can be confusing if you don’t know the point of view. But once you have the left’s and right’s down you should probably think about having a few extra balls.I personally like to carry two extra of every ball for each dog. Everyone bust out your calculators and do the math, that’s eight balls in whatever holding place you happen to find on your person. I personally like me some comfy cargo shorts, the pockets hold my extra balls pretty well. But to each their own, I have seen fanny packs, back pockets, front pockets, hoodies, and even seen tennis balls held in the small of the loaders back. So your results may very.

What do you do if the dog in your lane bobbles the ball and pretty much has no chance of finding it, but will not return to the handler because it's a dog on a mission and will not be deterred? As i found out this past weekend, you can just drop a ball for that dog to find so that he/she can get it and just get out of there before they run off or steal the other teams ball, which could lead to even more problems. 

Another good thing to remember is that you DO NOT LEAVE YOUR POSITION UNTIL THE HEAT IS OVER. And since I sometimes can’t hear the judge due to barking or even see who’s who down at the other end of the lane because the light outside could rival the sun itself, I usually look for the other box loader to step off and then follow suit, or if they don’t move and I can actually differentiate people on the other side I will look to see if anyone is running their dog or doing anything resembling what happens during the heat. 

My last point is going to be about calling the dog from the box. Since I am paranoid as all get out I usually keep my mouth shut unless I’m told to say something. And with that, it’s story time. During the tournament over Memorial Day weekend one of my team mates asked me to call her dog, and I just immediately blurted out the dogs name. Which would have been a fantastic thing, if we had been running the heat. Alas, we were in between heats and the dogs were lining up. So I yelled, “Dodger!” and Lex comes back with a, “When he’s running”. Dodger was third in the line up. Big duh on my part, but that’s what I get. Sometimes I get wrapped up in my head when I’m trying to make sure I have the lineup for the heat correct. 

[Lexi's note: we have run into this twice with Demo. He will NOT come back if his ball gets lost. Twice he has technically crossed over, once causing a very clear interference, and the judge did not whistle the heat dead, Demo then jumped over the back boards to hunt down his ball - there are props and spare tubs of balls and god only knows WHAT back there, not to mention the wires for the lights.... so it was a really dangerous situation and I was pissed SO PISSED at the judge for not calling the heat. That is when we found out if the boxloader just "accidentally" drops a ball for the dog it's just a re-run for the dog and hopefully the next time it happens we can avoid Demo trying to kill himself!"]

 Next time: Trusting your dog and letting him fly!