Home for the Holidays

December 27, 2008

Well we have had about 2 weeks of freezing temperatures with daily highs averaging around -30!  Since we are off to Florida in less than 2 weeks we have been trying to train a couple times a week and boy does -30 in an unheated barn put things into perspective.  I have been out at the arena for hours at a time running with 5 layers and winter boots, hovering under the propane heater while my dogs and I catch our breath.  I think I may be crazy 🙂  I keep thinking that one day I will have a nice heated building, but the truth is that I probably wouldn’t get as much out of it.  I remember when I was too young to drive and at the time I didn’t train with anyone so in order to practice I would load up the car with all my pvc jumps and my 12 electric fence posts and my ikea tunnels and I would convince someone to drop me off at a public park where I would haul everything out of the car, set up my equipment, train my dogs then get someone to pick me up and load everything back into the vehicle then out of the vehicle and into the back yard.  I did this often and I think that it forces you to be a better, more efficient trainer.  My agility practice was a lot of hard work and you didn’t just mosey around and “practice” I always had a plan and trained something specific.   I really think this training helped my older dogs as they have trained in so many strange environments, moving from park to park so we didn’t get caught and fined.  We would practice by the skating rink and in the midst of a soccer or baseball game, it was great distraction training and helped generalize all of our training.  I think I may find it hard to make my training sessions so efficient if I had a nice heated facility that I could use at any time, so for now the -30 unheated barn will have to do.

We ended our teaching season for Sherwoodbarks withthe annual Christmas party.  A good time was had by all as we gathered withour dogs and played an assortment of games.  Riot’s team won first place overall with her help by winning the wienerdunking competition and getting second place for best trick.  Other highlights from the party included musical crate games (great for proofing!), clicker training humans, virtual agility and some weave pole challenges.  I now have a week or so off then back to the drawing boards.  We have some new classes starting in the new year including a “high octane” class filled witha bunch of crazy border collies, and I will be continuing with the competition classes on Wednesday nights.

We loaded up the van and on the morning of the 24th we headed South then to the mountains and we have been enjoying the holidays in Canmore (just outside Banff) with family.  The dogs are enjoying a nice break from agility and finally some warmer weather.  It feels way too much like work to put on 16 boots and coats just to walk the dogs, especially when they end up falling off half way along the trail.  The last couple of days it has warmed to about -10 and the dogs can actually walk a good distance without boots.  We are going dog sledding early tomorrow so hopefully the weather stays warm. 

I am getting really excited about Florida, I haven’t worked withGreg or Susan since April with seems like forever.  We have a USDAAtrial before and after camp which both have local qualifyers for Steeplechase and Grand Prix so maybe this year we can qualify to go to a regional.  I will be sure to take lots of pictures and video while I am down there, that is as soon as I find my camera 🙂

Say Yes instructor Tracy Sklenar has a new youtube page with videos of her new puppy “Matrix”  she is training lots of cool things at just 7 weeks old – check it out http://www.youtube.com/user/Tracysklenar

See Saws and Broomsticks

December 10, 2008

So I left the trial on Sunday frustrated with Preston and spending yet another $15 to haul him out of the ring.  I decided to devise a plan to make his teeter performance much harder in training, aka more proofing.  I was working in an environment that was very familiar and ICOULD NOT make him fail.  We tried from a tunnel, to a tunnel, racing past, sending ahead, throwing the ball, throwing the cookies, three other shelties going through the tunnel while he did the see saw…he could not be out smarted.  So I drove home thinking of how I could make it harder. 

When Preston was a baby my mom had a hard time getting him motivated to tug, but with most dogs you can find one or two things that just make them go crazt and for Preston it was a mop and a fly swatter.  Since it is so hard to find fly swatters that don’t have a metal handle and we didn’t have a mop on hand I resorted to the best available option which was a broom, and boy did that get him good !  He really struggled to stay in position and his nose targeting got faster and faster because he really really wanted that broom.  Anyways it made me laugh so hard I thought I would video the session and post it to show the world how strange we agility people really are…

We also started our Excellence in weave poles training tonight.  Our plan is to work through all the challenges provided in Susan Garrett’s exercise book.   Tonight we did ex 1-12 with Chase, Riot and Preston.  I am going to use my blog for record keeping since I always seem to lose my records.  A success is the dog getting it right the very first try, everything else is a failure. 

Chase was successfull on challenges 1-12

Riot failed challenge 1, 3, 4, 5 and 12 (need work with DOL)

Preston failed challenge 2 and 8

I worked each challenge until we had success and plan to re-visit the failures in a couple days.

A day at the dog show

December 8, 2008

We had an AAC trial today.  I had all four dogs entered in standard and jumpers.  Riot was once again clean and fast all runs, we had one bobble where she didn’t read a rear cross out of a tunnel but no faults.  She ran 6.2 yds/sec in jumpers but her competition ran 6.4 so I told her she needs to start stepping up 🙂  Her running dogwalk was great, even with a turn off the side.

Preston was again extremely naughty and got carried off the course.  He was good with his running contacts, its just the damn teeter!  The first run he flew off then I put him back on (stupid move) and he was good, next run he didn’t even attempt to stop – two tomes in a row so we had to leave.  His performance is really good in training but he just wants to push the envelope all the time.  This was the first time he seemed to really start to like the game so it was nice to see some more speed.  We also had a huge success because first thing in the morning he saw a cat run across the warm up ring and of course he took off, but when I went to retrieve him and brought him back to the warm up ring he actually went back to tugging and working instead of just obsessing or leaving again.   I really wanted this teeter issue to be done with by the time we go to Florida but its not looking good.

 Bounder was slow and walked through the weaves so I assumed she was sore and pulled her.  She is going to enjoy some well earned time off and we will see how she is closer to regionals.

  Chase had had two months off and this was his first trial back…yikes!  We had two terrible runs…some my fault, some his.   The good news is that we got re-measured and have now moved into the 16 regular class – bye  bye specials (he still thinks he’s special 🙂 )  This will make my life easier at nationals and regionals as they will all be in the same class and ring – 1st, 2nd, 3rd would be pretty cool!  Looks like we will have some good competition at regionals this year so we have to start training harder.

I am now a member of Edmonton’s Agility Club House which means I have an arena to use any time for a monthly fee.  So I have one month to wip everyone back into shape so we are ready for Florida as I really want to qualify for USDAA nationals and we only have a coupe chances.

Susan Garrett’s new blog can be found here www.susangarrett.wordpress.com

Greg Derrett now has a you tube account http://www.youtube.com/user/DerrettLG

 Greg running his young dog Detox

Greg running GT