Friday, January 29, 2010

Reece is still making his statement

Reece went to live with my parents a couple of years ago. This was his choice. He still avoids me when I go to my parents' house for fear I'll take him home with me.

Mom just emailed me these photos she took today. The week of Thanksgiving and black Lab pup arrived at their farm. After searching for her owners, no one claimed her and it looked like she was dumped. It didn't take long for everyone to realize she wasn't going anywhere.

So with 6-month-old Maci to control, Reece has more to do during the day. First, he has to make sure Maci (right) and Hollie (left) don't go anywhere when they're laying in the sun (yes, he's herding them).

Then he needs to make sure he hangs onto HIS bone. Maci likes to steal his bone, so just in case he dozes off (he is nearly 13 years old, you know), he sleeps on it for good measure.

Really, he DOES sleep now that he's 13! I've seen it!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Finding just one word

I listen to KLOVE radio, and Thursday morning they began talking about a website and a concept called My One Word. It's taking the "New Year's Resolution" concept and putting it into one, easy to remember word.

This is from the My One Word website:
“My One Word” is an experiment designed to move you beyond the past and look ahead. The challenge is simple: lose the long list of changes you want to make this year and instead pick ONE WORD. This process provides clarity by taking all of your big plans for life change and narrowing them down into a single thing. One word focuses on your character and creates a vision for your future.

I've been thinking about this for the last 36 hours, and I really like the concept. I haven't selected my one word yet, but I've been playing with a few and I find the concept great. It's so much easier to get myself focused on one word. I'll be diving in and finalizing My One Word search this weekend.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The great puppy pantie search of January 2010

The girls are in season. Yes, both of them. Tuesday night Devon started during agility class, luckily caught before she could drip anywhere. When I got home I searched for her puppy panties and finally found one pair. I knew I had two more pair.

So Wednesday morning the search for the puppy panties began. I tore apart several closets looking for these two pairs. I found lots of things, but not what I was looking for. I looked everywhere I could think of and even some places I knew they wouldn't be. I just used them in April! Where could I have put them?

I went out for errands and stopped at a local pet store. They had some washable puppy panties, so I grabbed the right size and went to checkout. Imagine my horror when they rang up at more than $32! I asked if I could return them if they weren't used since I knew I had some at home that I couldn't find, and she said yes.

Back at home, I repeated my search and was still unsuccessful. I located some reasonably priced puppy panties online ... only to find they were all back ordered until mid-February! By that time I wouldn't need them! That's when I realized I better do something right away, because Page was in season and she needed puppy panties.

I went online to two local chain pet stores. Petsmart carried washable puppy panties, so I called the nearest store. Yes, they had washable puppy panties, but no larges. She had medium and XL. I asked her to hold the medium, envisioning Great Dane sized puppy panties on petite Page.

When I arrived at the store, the only checkout line was backed up with 6 people, so I found the washable panties in the store. There was no XL and the mediums clearly wouldn't work for Page, since the maximum weight was 35 pounds. I went to the front of the store hoping they also held the XL size, too ... and I saw the XL puppy panties going down the beltway and being rung up for the woman in front of me. Unbelievable!!!

I offered to purchase them from her, and she said no way. Seriously, was every 55 pound female dog in the country in season?? She did tell me if I'd go to the Petsmart on the other side of town they would have them because, "Those folks only have tiny dogs and you can always find L and XL over there." Great! It was 5 p.m. and starting to rain and the temp was 31 degrees and I had to drive across town to the worst traffic congestion. I was really in the mood to do that!

Before I left the parking lot, I called two other Petsmarts and both were out of Large puppy panties. Finally I called the store the woman suggested and sure enough they had one pair left. He said they would be waiting for me at the checkout lane.

An hour later I arrived at the store and purchased the same brand of puppy panties I had bought earlier in the day for only $20.99 plus tax. Since I was on that side of town, I decided to go a few blocks out of my way going home to check out a locally owned store that I thought would also have them (but they don't have their stock online).

On the way, I drove past a Petco and decided to stop there. Their online store only showed they stocked disposable puppy panties, but I decided since I was driving past I might as well stop. Petco had three pair of Ls, but they were marked down from $28.99 to $24.64. On the way out I asked if they price matched and was told yes. Great! I'll go just down the road to check the other store first!

At the third store I also found two pairs of L washable puppy panties (the same brand). These were $22.98. I asked if she price matched, and she said yes and called the manager. The manager came up and I showed her my receipt for $20.99 for the same item at Petsmart. The manager informed me I had to have an advertisement or she couldn't price match; the receipt wouldn't do it. She went on to explain to me that surely I could understand her position. I smiled and said, "That's fine. I'll just drive up the road and give Petco my $42." She said nothing as I walked back out the door.

Back to Petco, and I had to wait through five customers and one very angry woman asking for the manager. The guy behind the counter said no problem and rang up my two pairs of puppy panties for $20.99. Then I asked if my Petco club card would make a difference if he rang it up. He said it was a discount card, so it might. Sure enough, it took another $4.35 off each pair!

So at 7:30 p.m. I arrived home with three pairs of puppy panties. Now each girl has two pairs, and I'm sure as soon as they go out of season I'll find the other two pairs I own but cannot find.

Page is not impressed with my purchase. She was horrified at having them put on her body. After contorting herself around and trying to tug off the Velcro straps and getting told no, she immediately went over to Devon and pushed her nose against the Velcro straps on Devon's pants. Devon didn't feel one bit sorry for her since Page didn't offer to help her the night before. Devon turned and laid down on a doggie bed as if to say, "You can suffer just like me, little sister!"

Below is Page's failed attempt this morning to rub and shake the puppy panties off...

She finally admitted defeat, but you can tell by the look on her face she's still not happy. Only 21 more days to go!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Freezing Fog

We had freezing fog here on Monday and Tuesday. Both days the fog coated the trees with ice that stayed on all day. I couldn't help taking some video, because it was very pretty. The really cool thing was that the fog must have come in from the south, because it only covered the south sides of the deck and trees.

Of course, Page and Devon enjoyed the freezing fog in their own way. Here are my two Golden girls playing first thing in the morning. Page is slightly lighter than Devon, and she's the one the takes the looping run at the beginning of this clip.

Monday, January 18, 2010

CISSC Agility Trial

Devon is back to agility trials after a 6-week holiday break. This is a fun local trial. It's small and mostly everyone knows everyone. The only thing I don't like is the change in the running order this club made back in November and repeated this weekend. They ran all standard and all JWW classes together. So both days Excellent exhibitors had to sit through Open and Novice before running their second class.

Don't get me wrong: I'm very supportive of Open and Novice dogs and handlers. In fact, one of the biggest reasons I don't like this running order is because of the pressure on the Open and Novice dogs and handlers. The building is congested with dogs and people, and many very nervous first time green teams are being watched by seasoned old-timers. Open and Novice dogs and handlers are much better served when the building is quieter and there are fewer dogs when they run. It just makes a very long day for all dogs and handlers - not to mention parking is terrible!

Well, back to the fun part! I really enjoyed hanging out with Kathy and Emma. I think I saw Emma was at least 10 seconds under time in one of her JWW runs! Amazing! And Zoe and Terrie are hot in Excellent B! And we got to see several folks make their agility debut this weekend: Sammy and Columbus, Laurie and Dusty and Steve and Archie. All three teams did fantastic for their first time out and some even earned ribbons! Teresa and awesome beagle Jordon have been bit by the bug in their second trial and promise to make it a 2-day affair in February. Let's see if they can talk the others into the same thing (Laurie). I had a lot of fun standing behind the ring reminding Novice teams to breathe and connect with their dogs. Thanks to Kathy who took on video duty for Novice on Sunday!

Now for Devon's runs. I thought we were a bit rusty on Saturday. We ran in the afternoon, and Devon had a busy morning here at the house. I only gave her half her breakfast as usual for a trial, but since she ran in the afternoon I probably could have given her a full meal. Plus I'm sure she did not nap in the crate. Considering she shredded another crate pad, I know she wasn't napping (why oh why do I continue to feel sorry for her and put them in her crate)!

The error you'll note on the video clip is that Devon popped her weave poles. She has been doing that in practice off and on, so this didn't surprise me. But she hasn't popped them in a trial at this facility. I realized as I turned her around she was worried about the moving shadows on the ground from the Big Ass Fan. I was pleased she did the poles correctly on the second try.

Devon also ticked the double after the chute pretty hard. I was surprised the bar didn't come down. I'm sure this was because she wasn't as prepared for it coming out of a chute. It worried her, and I struggled to keep connected with her on the next two front crosses. I made sure I stopped and connected so we could keep that teamwork.

I felt Devon was slow on course, and her time reflected it. I was concerned she may be sore or need an adjustment with all the rough play she and Page do. I decided to not worry too much and see what she did on Sunday.

Sunday proved to be a much better run for Devon. The running order was tall to small and JWW ran first. Devon was eager to run, and she tugged up to the back of the ring, which is a first. I got worried when Devon started stress scratching at the start line, but once she was on course she only ran faster and faster.

I didn't know how the rear cross on the 180 would work, but she read it beautifully with a nice line. She handled the send to the landing side front cross on the next 180 well, too. I was really pleased with the very tight line she gave me after that front cross into the weaves. There were two places through there where she gave me a couple of sniffs, which had to be stress, but she didn't seem to break stride. She had very nice weaves, which were a little slow but accurate.

I almost didn't get that last front cross in. As I was rotating I knew it was the wrong choice. I also could hear Kathy in my head saying we'd get a wide turn if we drove too hard and showed too much extension getting into position. That was true! But Devon saved it, and we had a lovely run. This run earned Devon her second AXJ leg and a pretty blue ribbon.

Although Devon's speed was good, it was not as fast as she has been. I still think she is likely sore and in need of an adjustment. I also continue to wonder what handling works best for Devon. As this Sunday run shows, Devon runs very well when I'm out of her way and giving her space. She can handle tight turns, but she doesn't seen to like them as well (note the sniff on the collection before the weaves and the slow down I felt on Saturday). It makes me wonder if she thinks she's doing something wrong when I completely decelerate showing that much collection.

We are still a very green team. Now that we are executing pretty well, I'm going to try and pay more attention to what handling she prefers and give it to her. I like her running happy and fast, even if we don't always Q!

Friday, January 1, 2010

2010 Goals

Happy New Year! The end of 2009 brings with it club membership dues and submitting last year's accomplishments for various club awards. It's a great time not only to look back, but also look forward and think about goals for 2010.

I have one email group and one trainer who asks its members/students to submit their goals each year. I like thinking about both short and long term training goals, so this has been fun to do each year.

So how do you set goals? Jenn Crank of IncrediPAWS said her goals need to be S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based). I really liked that model.

I also think you need to look at long-term and short-term goals separately. Long-term goals include "career" goals for each dog. I start out a list of titles I want my dogs to have when they retire. Then I think about progression toward each different goal. In balancing multiple sports, which sport am I going to concentrate in first and which will wait until the end of the dog's career? Those are the big picture goals when I bring a dog home. Those goals rarely see big adjustments, other than in the timeline it takes to achieve them.

Next come the shorter-term goals, yearly, monthly, quarterly and weekly. This is where I add my resources into the mix, as well as balancing multiple sports. I start big picture and then work my way down. So, at the end of the year, what titles do I want my dogs to achieve? How much money and training time will that take? If I'm looking toward pushing to a big title, which other trials will fall into the background this year to make room for that accomplishment?

And goals don't have to be about titles, they should include training. For instance one of my big goals for Devon this year is to have a confident teeter performance. One of my goals for Page is to have her agility obstacle performances solid by the middle of the year.

Once you have your yearly and quarterly goals set, then the training begins. How do you organize your training? Do you journal? Do you plan out your training sessions each week? How do you track your progress?

I plan my training session on the calendar about 10 days out. I look at my work schedule and coordinate with to see what days would be best for outdoor work. Then I list on the top of each page in its own unique color what training session Page and Devon will have each day.

For daily training sessions, I use a checklist to track my progress. I write out all the steps or progressions of each thing I'm training and put an "X" beside it each time I train it. This let's me see at a glance where I'm going. And if I run into problems, I can look back and see where we might have spent too little time and revisit that area.

So, what are the girls' goals for 2010? Ok, I'll be really brave and post them! For Devon, I would like to get her VST in the first half of 2010. This is a huge tracking goal, so we'll start gearing up for it in late February.

In agility, I'd like Devon to earn her AXJ and if not her MXJ be on the way to it with most of her legs. Agility is one of those sports that often has to take a backseat to field and tracking, so she will only trial periodically. Devon's other big agility goal is to have a confident teeter by fall.

In field, I plan to work drills and concepts to set her up for her Master Hunter. I'd like to enter at least one or two tests this fall, just to get our feet wet. And this leaves obedience; poor obedience is once again getting the "leftover time." Our goals for obedience are simply training goals. I'd like to solidify Devon's Open obedience exercises and teach the utility exercises. I plan to continue to work her precision heeling.

And what about Page? Well, Page will also be pursuing her VST in the first half of 2010. As I mentioned in a previous post, I had to make a tough decision about whether to pursue Devon's MH or VST in 2010. What made the decision is that both Devon and Page are working VST, and I didn't want either of their tracking to stagnate.

Page's other titling goals for 2010 include getting her JH and WC in the fall. This will take a significant amount of training during the summer, but I think they are achievable goals. With her upcoming field training, she should be on her way to transition to Senior work by fall. This will set the girls up to dovetail field work in Senior and Master very well in 2011.

Page's training goals also include agility and obedience. For agility, I'd like her equipment/obstacle training to be complete by summer, so she can begin to sequence by fall. If I see any fall off in her agility performance due to her other sports, I'll back off her agility training to a maintenance level. In obedience, I am currently teaching heads up heeling and other novice concepts (fronts, finishes, etc.). I will maintain those skills throughout the year as we shift focus to other sports.

Those are our 2010 goals. I'd love to hear about everyone else's 2010 goals! Leave me a comment so I don't feel so alone in my planning!

Balancing multiple sports (an afterthought)

After I published the last post and as I was doing errands today, I had one more thought I should have added to the topic of Balancing multiple sports. When I'm concentrating on one sport in preparation for competition, I don't stop training the other sports. I just move them to a "maintenance" or background level.

For example, when I was pushing the field work this summer, I trained field 5 times a week. I continued Devon's weekly group agility class; I worked obedience once or twice a week; and I tried to track once a week or once every other week.

I didn't teach any new skills while I was preparing for the Senior Hunter. I made that mistake a couple of years ago when I was teaching Devon agility and doing pressure field drills at the same time. I used lots of rewards and made agility fun. I maintained our obedience work at least once a week. And I shortened Devon's VST tracks to no more than 300 yards and dropped any training on MOT turns.

I choose times when I am not pushing to prepare for trials to train and teach. This winter I'm doing a lot of training and teaching. Devon is firming up her Open obedience skills and learning her Utility exercises. She trains obedience at least 5 times a week. We can still do some field work, so field training is on her list a couple of times a week, weather permitted. Also as weather permits, I'd like to track once or twice a week. As the weather begins to break in late February-early March, Devon will pick up more tracking and probably another field session a week. And the obedience and agility will once again drop back to a maintenance level.