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

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One Response to “Home for the Holidays”

  1. Sue said

    I know what you mean about the cold barn… At least when I have been there I have been the only one there so there is little chance of getting cold as I switch between the two dogs. The dogs don’t feel the cold and they appreciate the chance to race around. The biggest challenge I face is how to squeeze my grids in there without having to move too much other equipment!

    Have fun in Florida – good luck with the USDAA events. I get to have a week in Banff for work in January but I would much rather be somewhere warm and be playing with my dogs…

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