Sunday, August 28, 2016
Monday, May 23, 2016
Sunday, May 22, 2016
Saturday, May 21, 2016
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Monday, May 2, 2016
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
Sunday, April 24, 2016
Saturday, April 23, 2016
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
“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!
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...
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!
In the past Susan has offered a 30 day money back guarantee – if you weren’t happy, no questions asked, refund issued.
Saturday, February 6, 2016
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
Saturday, January 16, 2016
Monday, January 11, 2016
Tuesday, January 5, 2016
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
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, 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 too...in 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