Sunday, August 28, 2016

K9-Kup #3 for 2016

Today I judged *my* last K9-Kup for 2016. It was the third event of four for the summer long competition.

Gambles was not a good way to start my morning…but c’est la vie. After three runs I shook off my exhaustion and was up and running at full steam!

The morning started damp, but no rain. After lunch the weather got quite hot and because of the wet ground things turn quite muggy (as they say) on the field. I was fine, but the humidity was taking a toll on some of the dogs. That’s agility for you though.

Judging is fun. The competitors had fun – some great attitudes out there this weekend. The dogs have fun….and it is great to see their skills progressing from the first event 2 months ago!

I do believe I have been committed to retuning next year. See you then!

Hollywood! Hollywood!

A once-in-a-lifetime experience has come and gone. I was…er, my dogs were…privileged to be chosen as “extras” on a movie being filmed (partly) in Ottawa.

The days were long, or I should say the nights were long, but it was fun to be included in something special. Something most people never get to experience.

I don’t know if our footage will all end up on the cutting room floor – always a possibility as our part was small – but I have been told our names will be included in the credits! Forever immortalized…sorta.

Look for it in theatres….possible a film festival in 2017.

"His Masters Voice"

Monday, May 23, 2016

There is a Jeep in my Driveway.... And it isn't Mine.

Hooray for long weekends!!

I so needed today off work – a “rest” well earned.

My mom and my sister came by to use my garden hose. Seems my sister had a little too much fun off roading in her Jeep. She got herself stuck, and in the process got her Jeep covered in mud – inside and out. She went to a car wash and paid an astronomical amount of money to get the outside clean…only to exit the car wash with a still dirty car.

Thus, the need for my garden hose. It took them about an hour of scrubbing, but the dirt eventually came off.

Today is also Indie’s 6th birthday! I bought him a little treat to have; Vixen too. He seemed to enjoy it.

Happy birthday buddy!!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Beast Mode Activated

Not much going on today. Some packing, with a little side of dog training.

I took Vixen to her puppy agility class….wait, I think it is now a foundations class as these dogs are no longer really puppies.

We worked on some Handling 360 tunnel sequences; alternating between driving out straight and turning tightly out of the tunnel. Fast and straight is not a problem for Vixen, but turning sure is. We’ve been working on getting those tighter turns, and there has been some improvement – even if it is just a little, progress is progress.

In case I haven’t said it before, she is going to be a beast on course!!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

On the Limp Again

Off to see Carrie at Kemptville Canine again. He is really quite sore in the front end – he really did a number on himself on Tuesday.

She said he has “agility pit”, or more accurately an injury to his teres major muscle. She said, he will get better, and from the articles and vet journals I have read, 90% of dogs can return fully from this injury, and return to competition.

So, obviously Regionals is out, and as far as I am concerned so is pre-qual’s at Nationals. I want my dog better, so we can compete for a long time.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Three Legs

Indie is limping – badly. We literally just got the all clear to get back to training and this happens.

All we were doing was come flatwork handing on some cones. He was thrilled with himself, but clearly during the process hurt himself.

Sigh. My poor little dog.

Monday, May 2, 2016

10 Month Hiatus

I think I need a break from agility….actually, I need a break from everything.

I took Indie his third agility trial of 2016. Each time I felt the same thing – complete and utter disinterest in being there. Twice I left early….I wasn’t having fun. That in itself isn’t fair to my dogs or my husband.

It isn’t that it was the opposite of fun…it wasn’t streeful by any means. It was just complete and utter lack of any interest.

I still love to train my dogs – we still go to class each week (or we try to anyways) – I just have no interest in competition. Actually, I almost feel resentment to having to be there – which of course I don’t have to be there it is always of my own choosing.

I don’t know why I feel this way. I know Travis not being here is part of it – I still cry nearly everyday. It isn’t the same without him. Also, Indie…I feel like something isn’t right with him – and that in itself could be paranoia from loosing Travis so suddenly.

And then there is me. I hate the way I have let my health decline the way it has. Food has once again become my comfort “go to”…I desperately need to loose weight.

Agility will always be here…it isn’t going anywhere. If I step out of the picture for a few months (almost a year) I won’t “miss anything”. Besides, I can volunteer. I can stay connected by being connected.

I’ll still go to Regionals (already paid an ass load to be there), and possibly….POSSIBLY….Nationals, but otherwise I think I need to bow out for a while.

Maybe I can “hybernate” and emerge next March a new person. I’d like to be a new person.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Call me Farmer John

The house is ours!!

What an ordeal! I’m NEVER buying a resale home again.  

I’m dreaming already about all the things this property can become. That is the great thing about it….it can become whatever we want it to be.

I have a few wild dreams, and a few more realistic ones.

One thing for sure, is we want to want to grow our own food. I have already rented chickens….yes, RENTED chickens. We aren’t sure we will want to invest in chickens, only to find out we hate having them. Renting gives us the opportunity to say “thanks you, but no thank you” and send the feathered beast’s home in October. If we like the experience, we will start own flock next spring.

We also want a small “orchard”. There are lots of fruit and nuts that can grow in Ontario, so we may as well have a few. We want more of a variety, that quantity of one.

I think a garden is a given. We can have a huge one, and plant anything we like. This house also has a cold storage, so that will be a great bonus.

With a garden, and orchard, comes pollination. Who better to pollinate than bees! I’m just in the research phase, but it seems like bees will be trickier than chickens. That may have to be put off for a year or two.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Cart Before the Horse

So the house isn’t ours yet, but I continue to be optimistic that it will be. When I’m happy I want to shop. Actually, when I am sad I want to shop too….

Eric and I real simply folks. We don’t like clutter, we don’t like knicknacks, we don’t like “stuff”. Now, that doesn’t mean we don’t have those things, but they are minimal. Living in a townhouse we don’t have much space for “extras”. Recently we even ditched the kitchen table in favour of converting it to a “doggy den” and grooming area.

The new house has a plethora of space. Consequently I feel compelled to “fill it”. Since I don’t have stuff with which to “fill it” I must go shopping. I don’t buy expensive furniture – having animals means it will just get ruined anyway. I feel much less resentment seeing scratches on my $800 basement sofa than my $5000 living room set (never, never again). So an Ikea shopping trip was in order.

We bought a huge new dining table and a truck load of chairs to accompany it. Also, finally got a bed frame four our guest bed (it was discounted twice…awesome!). Lastly was a new TV stand. We currently have out TV mounted to the wall, however the new house has concrete walls, so nothing substantial can be mounted to the exterior walls without significant work and damage.

We didn’t have the intention of actually assembling anything until after the move (everything is already in boxes; but the TV stand changed that plan. Most IKEA stuff has all the part ina box or two, and the instructions are pretty easy to follow. However, this TV stand was a mix and match of parts. In fact, there were 18 different “parts” that had to be purchased and the Frankenstein’d together; never again.

I kid you not….I opened one package for the stands legs and the instructions were literally “use these parts” and then throw “these parts” in the trash! Really?! Why would you put parts in package if you are literally going to tell me to throw them away?!

The big parts for the stand were damaged and didn’t include all the parts (it didn’t look like a return) so we had to make a second trip back to do an exchange. Three hours later, the grey cat was finally able to claim the TV stand hers.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Vixen Making Moves

Had fun little class with Vixen today, one hour at The Training Hall, with Christine running the show….we are all counting down the days until we get to have class OUTSIDE!!

Three stations to work…

First, plank work with nose targets. We suck, mostly because I haven’t trained it, like, at all. Now that Rally is on the back burner we can get that back on track.

Second was shaping the tire. The easy stuff was….easy. The testing the understanding resulted in some fabulous failures. It won’t be the last time I say it…FAILURES ARE AESOME!! When we get failures, we also get the opportunity to help our dog understand how to be correct.

I am truly of the mind set now that without training with failure (purposeful exercises set up for the dog to fail, but then also be correct) the dog truly doesn’t understand our expectations.

Vixen had some real thinking moments. When withdrawing reinforcement, she really took a step back and went “what the @#$%!”, then you could see the lightbulb go off! “Oh…I have to do ‘this’ to get reinforcement!” Brilliant!

Last station was some one jump exercises. Super fun. We worked on our backside “sends” and slowly started to introduce “serps” through placement of reinforcement. I’ve started to see that Vixen is not a tight turner, she is a flanker for sure. I know she’ll get it though. It was so much fun working with her on this, that as soon as we got home we headed out back to “the patch” to work on it some more.

Super fun girlie. :)

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Cutting the Cord….is Hard!

Social media has killed good manners, and decency. I hate it.

I wish I could just delete Facebook, Twitter, etc….unfortunately social media is now the “go to” source of communication and networking. So as much as I wish I could ditch it, I really can’t. So I have cleaned house. A clean house is a happy house.

I deleted all but ACTUAL friends and necessary business contacts. I will be careful going forward who I allow in – very careful. Pretty sure there will be an application form and credit check.

It isn’t so much about “who” I let in, but more about who gets in because of who I let in. That is the way social media works. Friends of friends of friends get in….that is scary.

I will likely have made some people angry – “unfriending” is looked up on as an offensive action. It really shouldn’t be taken that way. Simply, if we aren’t friends (defined as we do things in real life, share stories, confide in each other) or connected directly for business reasons, you are out - people who are out really shouldn't be surprised...if they really think about it.

No casual acquaintances, no friends-of-friends, no we can't be friends because of a mutual “like”.


If you don’t directly bring value, no entry.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

But I Don't Want To!

I appear to have lost my passion for competing in agility. I still go to classes, and I still train skills daily…but I don’t want to go to competitions.

I had a competition I was suppose to go to in early March, but didn’t end up going because “I wasn’t up for it”…I really wasn’t. Now, UKI East Spring Cup is this weekend…and I don’t really want to go.

Competing almost seems like a hassle now. The long drive. The packing and unpacking. The waiting…oh GOD the waiting! And it is suppose to be cold this weekend….with rain and drizzle, and snow. Ugh.

Competing use to be fun….but I don’t think it is anymore. I’m guessing in some way I have changed. Or did competition change?

Is this Travis induced? Or is it Indie? Am I worried about his physical health? Or maybe I feel like we have reached the top of our game and there isn’t anything left to…."prove"? Or is it just more of the "same old" and just really boring now.

I don’t know. I don’t want to go. I probably will. But I don’t want to…..

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


Trying to not be consumed by grief is exhausting. I’m not doing it on purpose – I am not trying “to be strong” – I think it is just a by product of life continuing on.

Of course each day is filled with happy moments, there is no denying that. In fact, I love my life and everything in it; but there are also these moments of profound emptiness. Those moments sneak up on you and take your breath away.

It is in those moments I realize not only how much I miss Travis, but also how much his absence is affecting every area of my life. Training with Indie and Vixen isn’t fun right now; because Travis isn’t here. Visiting friends and family isn’t fun right now; because Travis isn’t here. Agility isn’t fun right now; because Travis isn’t here. Being at home isn’t comfortable; because Travis isn’t here. I still do all those things, but it feels like part of “me” is missing.

My life has just lost the sparkle that was once on it. Travis was that sparkle.

I miss his barking in the car when we pull on to a gravel road (gravel roads always mean fun!)
I miss his obsession with eating snow.
I miss him standing on my chest when we he wakes me up in the morning because it is breakfast time and sleeping time is over.
I miss his little growl that he would do when he was really excited – he would sound like he was going to burst!
I miss seeing him drool for fresh cheese curds.
I miss that “look” he had when he was just enjoying existing.

That “look”…part of me wonders now if he knew…

It was sometimes a joke that Travis “wasn’t the brightest bulb in the box”. Now I wonder if he knew that there was more to life than knowing lots of tricks, or running really fast in agility….or even hitting all his contacts.

He would often just stop a gaze up at the sky, seemingly soaking in goodness of life. When he did this he always had a smile on his face. While I am embarrassed to admit it, I never saw Travis as a “dog”. People who met him, and took a moment to look at him - truly look at him - always said he was an “old soul”. I think means something different to everyone – all depending on your personal beliefs – but for me it meant he had lessons to teach.  

I am not sure what his lesson for me was, but I am thinking it may have been a very simple one…life is short, enjoy every moment. In essence, be more like Travis. Right now, I am angry if that is lesson I am being taught. I think his death is tragic because it was cut so short. He wasn’t an old dog who died from age related disease. He was a young dog taken from this earth far too early – he deserved to live.

I bear no guilt from his death – from “catching it” too late. He was physically strong, ate good food, went to the vet regularly, was smart and well trained, and was always groomed to the 9’s. He was taken care of as well as I could have taken care of any dog – and still he was snatched from me.

I know death is part of life, and I am well aware that our animal’s lives are so much shorter than our own. I’m prepared for the death of an old animal – that is the circle of life. I will be sad when my old animals pass away. I am however angry that my young animal died.

I’m angry, but I don’t want to be.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Busy Little Bee on the Internet

I have posted nothing because I have done nothing. I’m not kidding. It has to be close to two weeks since I have done any dog training at all.

“Life”…it gets in the way sometimes. Since I have cut back on my part-time duties as a dog trainer (for both myself and for Best Friends) I have felt a little…"isolated”. Too many hours alone - too many hours replacing wholesome social interaction with social media.

I’ve been wanting to get move involved with national/international “dog organizations” for a while. Volunteer jobs often come up with the CKC, and occasionally with the AAC as well. Nothing has tickled my fancy (as they say) until a few weeks ago. UKI Canada (of parent UKA International) posted looking for a volunteer web administrator. Immediately that felt like it would be right up my alley. I’m creative and rather web savvy, I’m also dependable. So I applied. Now, I may very well have been the only applicant, but I was given the job. I didn’t want the fact that I was possibly be the only choice be discouraging to the UKI Canada Reps, so I dove right in and gave it everything I could.

Over the past week I have put in about 24 hours of work, and things look pretty spiffy. At least I think anyways – nobody has given any negative comments anyway…so I’ll assume all is good.

So now that the bulk of the work on the UKI Canada website is done, I can start getting back on my own dog training. Wait. Scratch that.

Tonight I am rubberizing the dog walk at Best Friends. I have a few more friends to help out this time so hopefully things will go swimmingly. Tomorrow I have two half day workshops with BOBBI LYONS!! The morning will be Vixen, the afternoon will be Indie. Should be a blast!

So Sunday, Sunday will be dog training!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Handling 360 by Susan Garrett

Susan Garrett is once again opening her Handling 360 (H360) online handling course. She is preluding the opening by releasing a series of videos (yes, they are marketing videos) that feature personal stories of the growth and success of current H360 members. I am an original member of H360, signing up when it was released in February of 2014. Each year I have continued to re-enroll as an “Alumni member” in order to continue to have full access to the training material whenever I need it.

In Nov 2014, the program was opened for it’s second round of enrollment, and like then, I am again being bombarded with questions from fellow agility enthusiasts who are wondering if they should enroll. I’m not complaining – as I am always totally cool with helping people out in any way I can.

However, I found myself repeating the same thing over and over again, so I decided to write a blog about it instead. So here is my run down and review of H360...

What is H360?
It is a start to finish agility handling program that has something for every handler and every dog. It has a logical flow and progression of exercises right from foundation exercises (away from equipment), all the way up to “international level” challenges. New to agility handlers would start right at the beginning, as would new to agility puppies and dogs. More experienced handlers and dogs could jump in somewhere in the middle, but would also value from doing the “foundation” exercises if there are any holes in their training or understanding. With the membership you are guaranteed 1 year of access to the program.

What is breakdown of the program?
There are four (4) core “modules”, each building on the skills learned in the previous module. In each module there are several lessons, with a new lesson in each module being released every two weeks. Even if you choose to start working in “module 1” you will have access to the lessons in the next three (3) modules so that you can preview the skills being worked on.

What are the core modules?
“Module 1” focuses on “groundwork” away from agility obstacles. It has about 70 exercises in total, a few being released over several weeks. These exercises are all part of an innovative plan that will build speed, accuracy, cooperation, and understanding for every agility team. Susan provides and video explanation and demonstration of each and every exercise, as well as a written explanation of the exercise for quicker review. Not much room is need for the majority of the exercises. I myself do most of the exercises in my tiny living room. Baby Vixen is living this module right now!

“Module 2” focuses single obstacle handling; in this case a single jump or a single tunnel. I am going to estimate that this module also has about 70 exercises. This module breaks down every single approach and handling option that could be encountered on a jump or tunnel. Again, each and every exercise has a video of Susan explaining and demonstrating the exercises. PDF downloads are also available so you can take those with you to your training space. A larger space is needed for these exercises – I can (just barley) do the single jump exercises in my 20’x20’ backyard with a sheltie. I can do some of the tunnel exercises back there, but not all. I usually throw my jump or tunnel in my car and head to the local off leash dog park during quieter hours. If I am feeling particularly bold, I’ll go to the closer local green space where dogs aren’t suppose to be off leash, but we are well behaved so no one has complained…yet.

“Module 3” takes the skills from the previous modules and challenges the handler and dog with speed! It tests the dogs understanding of the handling and obstacle skills under the more realistic conditions. There are about 100 exercises in this module. This module has been by far my most favourite. It has been touted as the “missing link” in agility training of the past. You will need a bigger space and more equipment for these exercises so I usually hit up my local clubs and pay green fees. If your dog is doing all the equipment (contacts and weaves) then this module will more than prepare a handler and dog for the starters/novice level at local agility trails. Towards the end of the module you and your dog will be well prepared for the advanced/intermediate level.

“Module 4” is “course work”. You will require a full complement of agility equipment. There is a new course released every 2 weeks for almost the entire year of the membership. Within each full course are several “sequences” that Susan specifically challenges each handler to try. Most often these are contact and weave challenges! Video of Susan running both Feature and Swagger on each course is provided too. There is also provides video of each sequence as well as PDFs to download. These courses are not easy…they are technical and fast. These courses will well prepare every handler for the masters/excellent level of competition….and beyond!

What else is there?
In addition to the four (4) core modules, there are several “bonus" items. I wont go in to too much detail here, but will say they go above and beyond what one would expect from an online course...however, if you have ever taken one of Susan's other online courses then you can likely form an idea of what else is in there...

This sounds overwhelming; will I fall behind?
Yes, it is overwhelming. The sheer amount of information provided is incredible! But, you need to learn to focus on you and your dog, and where you are at in your own journey. The lessons in each module are released on bi-weekly intervals, but that is not necessarily the pace at which you are expected to be successful and ready to move on. You regulate your own learning and the pace at which you move on to the next challenge. You are also not expected to be working in all of the modules at the same time; work through one, and then progress on to the next.

How much does it cost?
I can’t exactly remember, but it is about $1200. I want you however to breakdown that cost and compare it to agility lessons you may already be taking. Without exaggeration, I am estimating that learning this entire program from start to finish through private lessons would take 2 years of weekly lessons, or 3-4 years of group lesson – plus your additional practice time at home. Do you own math, but if you were to take this training from me, it would cost you $3000-$5000 dollars. That isn’t even including the contact and weaves training necessary for competition - so add more lesson time and money!

What if I sign up, but decide that it isn’t really for me?
In the past Susan has offered a 30 day money back guarantee – if you weren’t happy, no questions asked, refund issued.
If you are not happy with your current instruction, or your team’s current performance, then I encourage you to take your training in to your own hands. This program allows you to do that! If it is still too much for you to take on, but still want help, I will be offering classes over the summer that focus on some of the exercises in core modules 2 and 3.

I hope this answers some of your questions. Have fun!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong again.

Had a GREAT puppy agility class with Vixen today! It was filled with mistake, after mistake, after mistake! You did see that I wrote it was “GREAT” class didn’t you…?

Why do I like mistakes so much? Well, quite simply, our dogs learn from their mistakes – mistakes create an opportunity to learn! During our training, when she made a mistake, she was not punished – she was not yelled at, or corrected with a leash ‘pop’, she was not scolded in any way. What we did was show her that her incorrect ‘choices’ would not yield any rewards. We did this by simply removing the ability to access a reward. We control the reward…not the dog. We then provided her with the opportunity to make correct ‘choices’ and when she did she was rewarded for making that decision!

This exercise showed me that my puppy has two really great personality qualities. First, she is tenacious. She has great focus and keeps going after what she wants. My challenge is making her want what I want her to want instead. Second, is that she can continue to work through mistakes. She never threw a fit, she never resisted, she never lost focus - she just kept working until she got what she wanted….which coincidently ended up being what I wanted!

So what were we working on exactly? Well…recalls past distractions! Our goal today was to get the puppies to fail. We wanted them to fail so we could show them how to make good choices in the ring. First up was recalling past a noisy border collie. I was sure she would try to “put that noisy beast in her place” but she ran right by with no second looks!

Next up was recalling past an empty food bowl. Well, this apparently is her kryptonite! The food bowl is empty so she cannot self reward for NOT coming when called. Even though the food bowl is empty, the handler must still rush in and cover the food bowl to prevent the puppy from continuing to look for rewards. This is IYC at its finest. Remove the dog’s access to something rewarding, and wait for them to make the choice of NOT continuing to steal.

It took a few different set up to find where we could get Vixen to be successful, but once we did, we were able to reward her good choice twice! First with a food reward for recalling to me, and then a bonus reward of getting to get a treat from the alluring food bowl! Rewarding back at the food bowl helps the puppy understand that choosing to ignore a distraction can actually lead to that distraction becoming your reward!

This same principal applies to putting agility obstacles under stimulus control. Most dogs are tunnel sucks – if they get one on their line there is almost no change of pulling them off it. The game we played with Vixen grows in to the tunnel games I play with Indie. When running towards a tunnel, instead of cuing him in to it, I may cue a “down” instead. The question is ‘can he listen to my verbal cues even when faced with his most favourite obstacle’? The reward for going in to a “down” is immediately being released and going in to the tunnel! The side effects of this game are a really great “down” cue - any where, any time - as well as a super fast reliable tunnel performance! 

Remember – If it isn’t fun, then you are doing it wrong!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Puppy Bumps

Had a super fun puppy agility class with Vixen today! During the week we struggled with her cone work at our training hall, but during class she rocked it! Whenever I experience two very different results of an exercise, it is usually due to a factor outside the dogs own “understanding” of an exercise. For this, I expect it was due to the flooring.

The matting at our training hall is very slippery; the matting at The Training Hall has a texture to it which almost completely eliminates the slipping. It is such good matting that I can ever do weaving exercises with Indie on it.

Today we also bumped up the “fun” on the two crate game we have been playing. The two crate game is fairly simple; teach your dog to power from one crate to another, on a straight line. It is a great game for building a reliable start line stay, and also for teaching your dog to focus forward (on their line). It also gives the handler and opportunity to practice leading out laterally – your dog should focus forward no matter how close or far away you are.

Since Vixen was easily running 20’ between crates, we threw in a winged jump with a jump bump. Her first jump was super cute and very puppy like.

We did maybe 10 more reps of this and I could tell it was beginning to make her tired so we put it away for the day.

I love this little dog.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Puppy Back in Action

Vixen and I had a fabulous puppy agility class today! We have been out of it since Christmas, so we were both glad to be back at it.

While away, we have been playing our crate games to very little applause. In class we were finally forced out of our comfort-zone (you know the one where neither you nor your dog can do no wrong) by our coach. It is good to get a kick-in-the-pants sometimes. We were encouraged (I say that like we had a choice) to move on to the Two Crate Game that is designed to encourage speed, driving the line, focus forward, and independent performance. Basically you race from one crate to another. All the rules of crate games apply – as in your dog must sit before being released from the crate. This also helps build a great start-line-stay for when working in the ring. Criteria…it all about the criteria. And being consistent! Over the next week we will add in distractions and maybe even a jump bump! Woot-woot!

Vixen was FAB! and we quickly built up to about a 20 foot distance between the two crates. She is a smokin’ fast little dog!

Our next task was to advance our cone work. She has great tight turns on a single cone, so we were pushed to start two cone handling with front crosses, post turns, and get this….a threadle!! She nailed it! Who’d have thought a little munchkin puppy could be threadling at such a tender age. I credit the brilliance of H360!

Our next cone exercise was the dreaded – but incredible necessary – “send-n-go”! What we are looking for is for the handler to cue the obstacle (or send…and in this case to a traffic cone) and then “go” (or leave in the opposite direction). A dog should understand that once their handler cues an obstacle, they should commit to it no matter what the handler does afterwards. We challenge little herding dogs with this because they often will “pull off” (a refusal fault) an obstacle before taking it once they see the handler leaving and running off in the other direction. We had about a 50% success rate on this one – a hard one for little puppy brains.

Our last exercise was teeter work. Vixen had already had one session of restrained recalls across the teeter plank when it was on two 24” tables. We started with more of the same as a refresher. Once she was comfortable was started to add in a tip – just 1” at a time. The tip didn’t phase her at all, so we will pick up here during our next session working up to a few inches of tip. We will go slow, but not too slow as to hinder progress.

She will also be 6 months old this coming Thursday. Where did the time go? I was hoping it would hold out until then, but her puppy collar was just a little too snug so I caved an bought her a new one.

I did this without forethought though. I purchased another pink one, without consulting my husband. As he does most of the dog walking on leash, I thought perhaps he would like a colour other than pink. I did ask him when I got home, and he said he didn’t care. Excellent news. I see more pink…and maybe rhinestones…in our future.  :-P

Monday, January 11, 2016

Winter Wonderland

Indie and I went to our first trial of 2016 this weekend (Eric and Vixen came for the ride too) hosted by the Montréal Agility Club! The hold the event a giant indoor soccer arena in Saint-Eustache. I planned for four runs Friday, and four runs early Saturday, so I could still get home at a reasonable hour and still enjoy the weekend. Plus I had to teach on Sunday at Best Friends.

Indie has never run particularly well at this venue, and I have yet to determine why. This weekend was no different. While he absolutely gave me his all, little things just didn’t come together. I don’t do many rear crosses in my handling anymore, but I did have to do a few this weekend. This is where we lost 2 Q’s. Indie was like “HEY! What are you doing!” So clearly we need to go back to the fundamentals of rear crosses again. There is always something.

This was also the first weekend of running aframe in competition. He had 3 great a-frames, and one icky one (he jumped off from high in the yellow), so that is coming along well. There is still plenty to practice on the running frame – most notably would be hard turns off of it.

So we left the weekend with 2 Jumpers Q’s, but only one video to share – where heck was my videographer all weekend?!? At the start the dogs had to jump the tire and directly in their line of sight was a huge patch of bright light. I believe this why he broke the tire (no fault) – hard to judge all aspects of the obstacle when looking directly into a patch of light.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Late to Bed. Early to Rise.

I woke up almost every hour on the hour. Figures.

I was up and out of bed at 5:00am. Out the door with the dogs by 5:35am. No real good comes from being up that early...except maybe a plane ride to a tropical location. I digress.

One of my many hats is as an agility trainer at Best Friends Dog Training. I like working with pet-dog people because it allows my not so serious side to shine...have a little fun without having to be so serious. Pet-dog people don't care that their jump wrap was a little wide, or that their a-frame contact was a little "sticky". They just want to have fun! I digress.

This morning the local CTV 'morning show' came to the training hall to do several segments on different dog sports to get involved in in 2016. 

All this mean't hauling myself out of bed while it was dark and cold and dark. I digress.

The first segment involved several teasers of flyball runs. My friend and fellow BF agility instructor allowed me the honour of handling one her flyball dogs - Kye. We live shot three teasers of her and I alternating running her two dogs. It was exhausting and loud and screamy. So much yelling. It was fun to try a new sport without having to put in any of the leg work. :)

Vixen even got to show of some her puppy skills in the segment. You can watch here...well, you can so long as the link continues to work. 

The next segment was all about agility. Agility rules! Indie is in the beginning of the video, and then the last part is me working with the host, Sarah Freemark's, dog Calleigh.

It was a lot of fun. The crew was great. The BF trainers and friends were great. However, I realized I am not meant to be in show biz. I'm not so happy about the early mornings. :)

Here are the other two segments that we recorded - 'Pet Tricks' and 'Scent Work'.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Say Cheese

No formal training today. I was however reminded that leaving my shoes laying around is no longer a privilege I am allowed to take advantage of. People training of the highest caliber.

Eric escorted Indie and I to see Carrie at her new clinic - Kemptville Canine Centre. His left tricep is a little sore..."agility pit" as it so described. Carrie was able to do some deep muscle manipulation...which of course made Indie melt in to the floor. A few IMS jabs and some laser too for good measure.

No need for any reduction in activity, however I have to do much more stretching. Indie has his first competition of the New Year next weekend. Very excited to run him at 10" in competition for the first time. I've made sure to pre-pack my fastest agility shoes.

Vixen has been blessed with one of those hard cheese chews. Indie keeps steeling it...much to her chagrin....

Friday, January 1, 2016

First Practice of 2016

Hauled my butt to the training hall to work on some agility foundations with Vixen, and some running contacts with Indie.

First, Vixen is a beast. She is cuckoo-bananas fun to work with. Decided to work some recall exercises and a bit on her "go" ahead cue. Not to brag, but she has a FAST "go" to well over 100' now. AWESOME!

We are suppose to be working on impulse control on the tunnel. However, Vixen doesn't have a reliable sit or down yet (priorities much) so there was not much impulse controlling. So, we worked on putting it on a reliable verbal cue. We had a few good reps, but then we hit a iceberg. I'll admit, I laughed uncontrollably (as did Eric) because it was fun to get a glimpse of things to come.

I cued 'tunnel' and away she went. My cookie toss was a little off, so she didn't see it. So this was her thought process... "No cookie? Tunnel AGAIN!....No cookie? Tunnel AGAIN!...No cookie? Tunnel AGAIN!...No cookie? Tunnel AGAIN!....No cookie? Tunnel AGAIN!...No cookie? Tunnel AGAIN!...No cookie? Tunnel AGAIN!....No cookie? Tunnel AGAIN!...No cookie? Tunnel AGAIN!......No cookie? Tunnel AGAIN!....No cookie? Tunnel AGAIN!..."

We were paralyzed with laughter! She was stuck in endless loops of trying to earn a cookie....and by George she was going to get that tunnel right even if it took all night. She is going to be so much fun!

Tonight was the first night back on cones about 5 weeks. Fortunately we picked up right where we left off. I am in no rush because after Flat Work comes Blueprint and we are still many months away from jump sequences. In fact it will be September 2016 before she is ready for jumping sequences. Doing things right with this baby!

Indie and I worked on distance handling. After I put Vixen away (I believe she is actually a Malinois mixed with a Border Collie) Indie could actually HEAR me give him verbal cues. She is crazy loud when she is mad. Car crating for this little minx for sure!

He rocked his sequences so we moved on to his running contacts. I've been messing around with about 4 different methods with him for about 6 months. I think I have finally settled on stride regulators. Is it the best method for teaching from the ground up? I don't know. However, I feel from a retraining standpoint it is what will work best for Indie.

In our RC lesson, I discovered that our tunnel sends and threadles sucked, so we worked on that for a bit too. It is always something isn't it.

No pictures and no video because I was in my PJ's. :-P

Welcome 2016

I have decided that 2016 will be the start of a new chapter for me and my agility dogs.

The year past was one of profound change for me. I discovered more about myself than I have at any other point in time.

The year ended with the biggest test...the loss of Travis. It has shaken me. However, I have decided to make good from it, and not wallow in my sadness.

So it has been decided that 2016 will be the start of something new. A new me. The new me on a path to personal greatness.

I will be posting on the blog more. I hope to post many more training videos so everyone can follow along with Vixen as she grows. What I post will be part raw, part edited videos. It is always more fun to see that edited - the best of what I train, but I also want you to see the raw. With raw come the mistakes and the challenges. Those are just as important to our journey as the good.

I'm happy that this morning I woke up a better person. I feel better. For me, that always was half the challenge.