Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008: Trials and Tribulations...

My annual posts...one that wraps up the previous year and one that lays out our goals for the next. It helps me reflect back a year or two. What we've really accomplished and what we should aim for.

First I just have to smile when I think of our year - it was a roller-coaster with twice as many highs: Murphy's CDX, Teller's Can Championship, Murphy's OAJ, Teller's CD, RN and CCA...We had a blast at the GRCA National Specialty this past September - so much so that I've even thought about trying to get to Oklahoma for the 2009 specialty...the problem is the distance (2+ days on the road each way) and the length of the specialty - YGRC had all of the events over 7 days - Oklahoma is doing fewer events over 10 days...Hard to plan for two plus weeks to be out of town...

The lows of course: some frustrating outdoor trials with Murphy, the broken wrist and just a life in chaos on so many levels...

Murphy:
  • Last year at this time I was debating leaving those two CDX legs on the table. Walking away and retiring Murphy from Obedience. I'm really glad I stuck with it - but SO SO SO glad to announce that as of July, Murphy is officially retired from obedience...maybe he'll do a veterans class in 3 years - maybe not. It just doesn't matter. Finishing Murphy's CDX - knowing who he is, his stress, his marginal work ethic - it was an incredible high for us. The CDX was one of our goals for 2008...I'm happy to check that one off!

  • I have confirmed that Murphy much prefers indoor agility trials...we'll stick to indoor trials for him in the future. Even in training he has really awesome days and days when he's not into playing...when he's on, he's really really on.

  • We didn't get much (any) tracking in this year. Not enough hours in the day or days in the week I suppose. It's on the list for next year.

    Teller:
  • My plan for Teller was a few conformation shows here and there - I had decided that if he hadn't won points by the end of April I was going to focus on his other work. I needn't have worried - Teller started off with 5 points in Sherbrooke (Canada) and another 3 two weeks later, then finished his Can CH out of the 12-18 class in June.
  • On a whim I entered him in the local NADAC trial in Stowe in August - I had zero expectations for him - he was so green and of course he's intact...He blew me out of the water with his ability to focus - we made some rookie mistakes - of course I had to learn not to run him like Murphy, and he had to learn a bit about taking what is in front of him...Out of the 9 runs we had over the weekend we left with one first, six second places, and a fourth place - oh and 5 legs towards various NADAC titles.
  • I didn't have to worry about doing obedience with him and breaking his conformation stuff - it just didn't happen. At nationals he did both the breed ring with Graeme and then rushed to Novice Obedience with me an hour later...
  • I had planned to put Teller in rally this year - but not obedience...some agility here and there - but didn't expect a lot. No one was more surprised than I was when he went to the National Specialty and earned his first novice obedience leg. I love GOOD surprises ;-)
  • The National Specialty was just a fantastic boost for Team Magica - Teller's first NAJ leg, his first RN leg, his first CD leg, his CCA, making three cuts in Am Bred...just a wonderful week!
  • Two weeks after the specialty we went down to the Souhegan KC show in search of a second leg...We drove down the day of the show and drove home the same day - a new thing for us. Murphy always needed to see the place the day before and feel the place out - what would Teller do? He didn't care. Settling into a crowded and chaotic environment and pulling off a nice score - which would have been nicer if I hadn't screwed him up on the recall (five point boo-boo). That was two for two for Teller-Woo!
  • Two weeks after Souhegan was our local BOTC trial. Because we had Q'ed under Bob Harris in Rhode Island a second leg under Bob wouldn't have counted towards his CD. So if we were going to finish our CD that weekend it had to be on Saturday. When I brought him into the ring and setup for the heel exercise he was visibly excited - AND interested in the dumbbells in the ring next door. It's never a good thing with the judge first compliments us on our work the previous night (there was a match and he apparently saw Teller working) and then asks me how much caffeine Teller had that morning! By now my faithful blog readers know that he went three for three and earned his CD on November 1st. I never expected to have him in obedience this year, I didn't think he'd be ready. When I entered him I just wanted to see where he was training-wise - and what he'd do in the ring. To say he surpassed my expectations is an understatement.
  • At the same trial Teller was entered in rally novice as well - easily getting his second and third RN legs with scores of 97 (both errors my fault btw), fourth place and the high scoring golden prizes both days.
  • Teller continues to train well. He's working all of the open and utility exercises now, and his agility work is really coming together - we have a lot of speed and he's consistently "on" and ready to work. One of the dogs we train with is miss consistency - she's what I would call an "honest" dog. She comes out every day and gives the same performance every time. Teller is very similar I think - if he's not working he's a beast - wanting to greet everyone and wanting to be the center of attention. When he's working though he is honest - if he makes a mistake it's almost certainly my fault. But, he forgives my mistakes and is SO much fun to train.
  • I almost forgot Teller's commercial for Pet Food Warehouse. It was great fun to film it and I'm just so damn tickled when I see it on TV! I immedieatly stop what I am doing to watch it - every darn time.

    So that's our year in review. I'll post our goals for 2009 tomorrow...
  • Monday, December 29, 2008

    My wacky Woo...

    When I woke up this morning (I don't wake up quickly) I smelled something strange...citrus, more specifically orange...hummm...not exactly a smell that is normal for a bedroom - but definitely better than other potential smells. So I open my eyes and there's a clementine orange on my pillow, then I look around there were lots of oranges all over my bed, clustered around my head, arms and torso. The brain cells began firing at this point. I had purchased a box of clementines at the grocery store yesterday and left the box on the stairs, overnight Teller had very carefully unloaded the box and brought all of the clementines up to me - presumably as offerings of affection. I was laughing hysterically as Woo sat at the side of the bed wagging his tail to beat the band - obviously very proud of his night's work. This one really earns his keep sometimes :-)

    As I was picking up all of the oranges and putting them back into the wooden box I examined them - not a mark, dent or scratch on any of them. Woo had been very careful when he moved those oranges - not a single one was eaten either - even though I know that he LOVES fruit - oranges in particular...

    How many people have such loyal and devoted dogs who bring them breakfast in bed?

    Wednesday, December 24, 2008

    Scent Articles...

    Over the last couple of days Teller has had a major break-through with scent articles - and I'm kicking myself for not trying this sooner! When Murphy was learning articles I shaped the whole thing - clicked when he got to (or hovered over) the correct article. I had some moderate success with that method - but never had to really proof it for the ring.

    I've tried a few things with Teller - cheese on the articles (Terri Arnold's method) and some of Bobbie Anderson's methods. I wasn't liking any of them honestly - they are great methods, but they weren't clicking for me. Someone suggested integrating the cheese with my scent - as in rubbing the cheese into my hand and then rubbing the articles with my cheesey hand. I didn't like this idea for a few reasons - first it was messy, second it was messy and Teller was looking for the visual orange cheese on the article and not using his nose. I was considering going to the tie-down method - but I wasn't sure how I wanted to handle that - is the tie on the article as much of a visual hint as the cheese? The answer I received for that question was that you can use the ties on the scented article too - but you just don't tie it...but...if the correction for the wrong article is to get a "check" when the dog picked up the article, then the visual tie-down is ultimately going to lead the dog to believe that he's chosen incorrectly - yes you train through that, but there's got to be a better way.

    This is where Murphy comes back into the process. Murphy is my easy dog - he doesn't need a lot of mental or physical stimulation - he doesn't HAVE to work every day, he doesn't care if an entire day goes by without retrieving a tennis ball or a frisbee. Neither of my dogs have ever been counter surfers or trash pickers - except for Murphy - but ONLY when there's butter or a butter wrapper within his reach...One day a couple of weeks ago I made toast for breakfast and as I'm buttering my bread both boys are sitting next to me - pointing the stovetop (where the butter was). Too bad they aren't pointers huh? So I had a lightbulb moment! BUTTER!

    Fast forward to the articles. Instead of cheese which was giving me moderate success (but not scenting success), I switched to butter - just a little rub of butter on my palm and then on the article. At first Teller wanted to lick the correct article - but I was able to fix that by giving him a second command: Find IT! and when he found it, BRING IT! A few reps of that and now it's back to FIND IT! The brilliant thing is that Teller is using his nose on the pile. He's very reliably going to each article, checking each one and grabbing the correct article and bringing it to hand (I'm not working the front and hold yet). I've been able to reduce the amount of scent (and thus butter) that I'm putting on the articles - I'll post more as we make further progress...Of course we haven't proofed the articles yet - but we're getting there!

    Murphy has also been re-training articles and is NUTS about the butter scent - in fact breaking his wait to run (GALLOP) to the article pile - it's pretty funny actually. I love it when Murphy really likes working - at this point I'm using the same article set for both boys and not rescenting the article I used with Teller (Teller works articles first and then Murphy) - so at that point the butter has pretty much been worn off - but while Teller works for almost any reinforcement, Murphy is doing 2 retrieves off the full pile and getting a lick of butter for the successful find :-)

    And on another note, we want to wish all of our friends and blog readers a VERY Merry Christmas from the Magica Boys (Erica and Q too)!!!

    Tuesday, December 16, 2008

    Training update...

    I haven't posted updates about our training progress...we've been doing a lot and I'm feeling like things are coming together...

    Murphy is still Murphy - he's either really ON and ready to work or he's eh...and doesn't so much want to work. When he's ON though he's been phenomenal. I've been retraining contacts with him - instead of a sit on the dogwalk and a nose-touch at the base of the a-frame I've been working a paw touch at the bottom of both contacts. At this point I'm using a mouse pad as the target - it doesn't move when the dogs hit it and it provides a tactical response (it's springy). Plus, I have zillions of them around the house - they're disposable. Murphy's weaves have gotten stronger and faster, his table is the most enthusiastic he's ever been. He's reading me well and when he's into the work his speed is improving as well. He's been working some utility stuff too - go outs and directed retrieves mostly. He seems to enjoy the work...

    Teller has been working pretty hard the last few weeks - and he just keeps getting better and better. I've changed his contact criteria as well - he had been doing running contacts successfully - I hadn't really trained them because I couldn't get him to blow the contact in training. His natural stride on the a-frame is one stride up, one stride jumping the apex and another stride to the bottom of the contact...To be fair he never blew the contact when we trialed either - but as time went on I became more and more uncomfortable with the running contact. I didn't have as much trust in the contact as I wanted and if I needed it I didn't have the training I really needed to make on-course adjustments if I needed to. So Teller is doing the mousepad work too. Lori has been working the target with Hannah's a-frame and I like the success they've had with that method. I don't want either boy coming down for a 2 on/2 off contact - I worry about their shoulders...Physically I think working the target at the bottom of the frame really lessens the impact there. We're only about 3 weeks (and maybe 50 reps) into this new method so it's too soon to tell - but I think we're on the right track. I'm getting some nice distance from him too, he's reading my body cues better now and dropping significantly fewer bars. Part of this is that I'm handling him better these days - I've been working VERY hard to stand up straight - I tend to do more front crosses with Teller (because I have the lateral distance) and fewer rear crosses. It's tempting to "help" the front crosses by bending over - not sure why I feel like that actually helps - it doesn't. I get in his space which causes the bars to come down - if I'm bent over I'm not moving forward which means he stops forward momentum as well and of course down come bars. Murphy is so darn cat-like in his jumping - I can count on one hand the number of bars he's knocked in his lifetime - but again, with the rear crosses there's no possibility to get into his way...

    Teller has also been working his fair share of obedience too - both open and utility exercises. I'm seeing some really exciting things. Teller's go-outs are really coming together - he's "getting" it - running out to the gating and doing a GORGEOUS sit. I've worked the directed jumping part separately - not surprisingly this has not been a problem for him. At this point I'm not going any further than 2-3' behind the jumps and I'm working a much smaller diamond than what he'll see in the ring. Tonight I decided to put them together to see what I had - interestingly enough I had a nice straight go-out and it flowed nicely into the directed jumping part. PROGRESS!!!

    I need to get him a set of scent articles. He's using Murphy's and they don't fit him properly. On my list to buy (when I win the lottery) is a shiny new Max 200 set for him. Larger bars and thicker bit for him...I think he'll be happier with the larger bars - I know I will be - the others are just WAY too tight for my liking - not that he tends to care.

    The open stuff is also coming along nicely - drops, retrieve over high, broad jump...it's all coming together. What is most exciting (for me anyway) is that he's really maturing in his work. I was working drops the other day while someone else was throwing a dumbbell in the same ring and while he noticed that the other dog was jumping and retrieving he didn't seem tempted to do anything other than what I was asking him to do...We're having a lot of fun right now. I have no idea what we're going to do in the spring - but we're having a lot of fun right now!

    In the next week or so I'll do my annual year-end thoughts and my goals for the coming year...

    Why I have goldens...

    You know I get that question a lot - why do you have goldens? They shed, they're big dogs (not exactly portable critters), they drool, there's a fair amount of grooming, etc. My answer is generally that I just can't imagine NOT having a golden. They're smart, they have a great sense of humor and they are just about the sweetest critters on the face of the earth...

    Every so often I have one of "those moments" when I see all of those things at once...this is why I have goldens...



    Q and Teller napping on the couch.




    Teller and Q cleaning out a lasagna pan...


    Teller, Murphy and Q sharing dish duty.

    Monday, December 01, 2008

    The Letter L.

    As Babe would say..."L is for LAAA, LAAAA, LAAAAAA!" Tonight we did a modified L exercise from Clean Run - it was a really simple layout but both boys really liked it - we had some good speed and some good distance work too (go and out). I put together some diagrams - one because it was such a fun exercise and two for me to remember and to try again sometime...In all of these blue is the handler and green is the dog's path...

    1) The first part of this was just half a speed circle with them on my right - Murphy really LOVES to move out so this exercise was right up his alley. I had more distance with Teller than I did with Murphy - which is interesting - but in general a good thing. I need a shorter path with Teller (who is faster). Both dogs had great "go buttons" tonight and I was able to send them one or two jumps ahead of me. With Murph I was probably right on the blue line, with Teller I was five feet or so to the left.


    2) This is similar - no crosses here - dog on the left side. I started pretty close to the dogs' paths on this one but used my outs here - the blue line here is probably closer (down) than I was with both boys.

    3) The rear cross exercise. Murph has always "had" a rear cross - it's front crosses that cause problems for me - not him - ALL ME! I get in his way and I have a tendency to bend at the waist as he comes around. Thankfully Lori has been reminding me every time I do it and I've done a lot of reps with the front crosses with Teller (more so than with Murph) because I have more lateral distance with him and feel like I can better get to where I need to be. Rear crosses have been tough for Teller - he's often moving out but hasn't liked me crossing behind him. We've worked it a lot because I'm going to need a solid rear cross - what really made a difference for him was the cone or jug game: going around it while I moved behind him. Once he got the jug he got it over jumps.

    4) Similar idea here - straight away with a rear cross behind the third jump - again - both boys got it here and I was able to cross right in front of the second jump and send them to four and five from a good distance.



    So takeaway - the go and the out work we've been doing over one jump in the backyard has finally started to pay off. Ditto with the rear cross work. It's coming together and clicking for both of us. Teller is making me work harder to be a better handler and Murphy is enjoying the job and I think is thankful I'm less of a detriment to his job!

    The funniest thing is when we do these alphabet drills I have the Sesame Street thing playing over and over again in my head...Sesame Street was brought to you today by the Letter L and the number six!

    Friday, November 28, 2008

    Photos from around here...

    I've been regularly grabbing the camera to take shots of the boys - but haven't had time time to download them from the camera and then upload them to the blog (or website)...Just not enough hours in the day I guess...I'll make more frequent uploads a resolution for next year!





    When my folks moved out of state I got a bunch of furniture that FILLED my garage. I got the garage cleaned out now and moved this chair and ottoman into the den. Teller decided that the ottoman was fun because it rolled - which was hysterically funny - but also that the upholstered chair was a pretty cozy place to take a nap.





    This series is from a few weeks ago - October-ish - look at how everything is GREEN!!! The squirrels were extra busy making their rounds that day which kept Teller pretty busy defending his yard.





    The funny thing is that as I was working through a customer problem this afternoon a squirrel climbed up on the door and made a knocking sound - Teller was NOT impressed.






    See what happens when you start using peanut butter as a reward for toenail dremeling time? The only drawback is that everyone who opens your fridge wants to know why you have peanut butter in syringes...










    Part two - aren't they cute?


    And here's a shot of the three boys passed out on the couch the other night...From left to right: Q, Teller and Murphy.

    As always you can view the full-sized images by clicking on them.

    Thursday, November 27, 2008

    Being proactive vs punitive

    I responded to a thread on one of the golden lists I subscribe to and it gave me a really good "buzz phrase" that I really like - it goes along with my theory and methods of training my dogs. There is a bit of background to this story so I'll give you the sequence of events.

    The list member has a young dog (20 months or so), he has his CD and had two CDX legs - she's really been pushing him pretty hard and seems to be more proud of that he's gotten these accomplishments at a young age than she is about the titles. Which is weird and I think a novice mistake - it'll eventually bite you in the ass - it's just a matter of time. The first post was a month ago, her dog went around the high jump in training (instead of jumping back over with the dumbbell). Her correction at that time was to go to him, scruff him and really physically correct while scolding him.

    Anyone who knows me knows this isn't my cup of tea - I'm not a purely positive trainer but I'm not physical with my dogs and I make darn sure that if I am going to fix something I'm careful to make sure my dogs understand what it was that I didn't like. The net result with this woman's correction was that her dog developed a fear of the dumbbell - didn't want ANYTHING to do with it. She had another show going for her third CDX leg the following weekend and wanted a magic fix for the problem. The consensus was that she needed to back way up and reintroduce the dumbbell as if it were a new thing and that she should probably scratch the trial that weekend. She did some pinch work and eventually got the dog to pick up the dumbbell, went to the show and eeked out a qualifying score.

    The most recent post had to do with a practice session where her dog left her on the directed jumping exercise to go visit dogs outside the ring, played through the ring gating, then jumped over the ring gating to play with the other dogs. Her correction for this was to go outside the ring, grab her dog and do another scruff shake and yell at him. The context for this post was basically "he jumped the ring gating - I don't want him to do that when we trial" and "how do I teach him not to jump the ring gating - I wish it had fallen over and scared him". You wanted him to be scared by ring gating?

    There were some people who responded with "wow, your dog is really pretty" or "he was just trying to make friends". My feeling was basically that she dropped the ball and corrected her dog unfairly AND at the wrong time. She could have called him after he took the jump, stated to lose attention, when he started running towards the gating or she could have called him as he was greeting the other dogs (before he jumped the gating). She didn't say anything to him until he was outside the ring and when she did she grabbed him and punished him. So what does a dog think in this situation - was he corrected for losing attention? Was he corrected for greeting and playing with other dogs? Or was he corrected for allowing his mom to approach him? Hummm - me thinks it might be the latter.

    My first thought was "why the hell is she using physical corrections again when she knows that shuts her dog down". And then it was "wow, she really turned a proofing opportunity into a really negative thing". My point here was that she had missed the window to fix the problem before it escalated. There was a huge window of time where presumably she just stood in the ring watching her dog make a series of mistakes and didn't intervene. She didn't call him - she watched him make the mistakes and didn't take any action. Because she didn't act and his small mistake (going off-course) became a bigger mistake (greeting the other dogs) and then a bigger mistake again (jumping the gating) she overreacted and made an unfair correction.

    My phrase in my advice to her was to be proactive, not punitive. It should have been training! She was practicing not training - maybe standing there like a stump is one way to handle that situation in the competition ring - it's not the way to handle that in a drop-in TRAINING session - or in a match. Honestly I'd fix it in the obedience ring too and take the "training in the ring" excusal, but the other part of this is proofing! I take every opportunity to proof for stuff like that when I'm training. I'll put Teller in stays next to a bitch in season, I'll ask him to heel past dogs he played with the day (or hour) before. I also work very hard to be more fun to work (play) with than another dog. Another dog can't tell him he's a superstar or play the hand-touch game - I can and I do. It's not all about the cookies - they don't come into the ring. It's understanding what the task is at hand and wanting to play the game - in training and in practice!

    Anyhow, this is what I chewed on all day today. Be proactive not punitive, train more and practice less - and of course train, don't complain!

    Pro-ac-tive: adjective serving to prepare for, intervene in, or control an expected occurrence or situation, esp. a negative or difficult one; anticipatory:

    Pu⋅nitive: adjective serving for, concerned with, or inflicting punishment

    I think it's hard sometimes to see our dogs objectively - to know what is an honest mistake and know when they're being goofy dogs - either way our dogs do not choose to do these sports with us, it's something we ask them to do for us. It's our job to be "on" 100% of the time - to pay attention to what we are doing when we're working with our dogs - to hold up our end of the bargain. To that end (and because today is Thanksgiving) I am thankful for my dogs - how much of the time they go above and beyond what I ask of them. Thankful that they give me another chance when I screw up and thankful that they keep me warm on COLD winter nights. And I'd be SO VERY thankful if they learned how to vacuum and work the buttons on the washing machine - but I know that's pretty unrealistic!

    Saturday, November 22, 2008

    Indira Gandhi had a golden retriever...and some HSUS ranting.

    I ran across this picture the other day - it came in the context of the Obama family decision to get a dog for the children, and what kinds of dogs other world leaders kept as pets...Indira Gandhi had several golden retrievers in her lifetime. I tried and failed to find out this dog's name...

    There's a lot of buzz surrounding the new presidential pet - I've heard that the Obamas have been offered strays from Puerto Rico, hairless dogs from Peru (the Inca orchids), poodle mixes (I refuse to call them doodles) and some various other breeds that are totally unsuitable if as we've heard over and over again that one of the girls has a dog allergy. Honestly I think we've got so many other problems in this country that what kind of dog they get just isn't even on my top 10...Can we please just fix the economy?

    My perception is that Obama has been lured into the animal rights zone by organizations like the Humane Society of the US (H$U$) - a powerful lobbying group - that breeding dogs is cruel and causes shelter dogs to die, etc. I won't rehash all of the real facts that are out there but mention this - the HSUS doesn't run a single shelter, they didn't adopt a single dog last year (not to be confused with your local "Humane Society" which is probably self or community funded and adopted out a TON of dogs last year).

    The HSUS mouthpieces have been very clear that their ultimate goal is mandatory spay and neuter of all puppies and kittens which would ultimately mean the end of domesticated animals as pets in a single generation...Is anyone doing the math here?

    As Cassy so succinctly said the last time this topic came up: "Where do people think their dogs will come from after mandatory spay and neuter? The Puppy Fairy?"

    We have no ethical obligation to preserve the different breeds of livestock produced through selective breeding. ... One generation and out. We have no problem with the extinction of domestic animals. They are creations of human selective breeding."

    -- Wayne Pacelle, Senior Vice-President oF HSUS, formerly of Friends for Animals; Quoted in Animal People, May, 1993



    And then there's PETA - which most people think is on the side of animals right? Not so fast, did you know that Peta euthanizes upwards of 80% of the animals they take in for adoption?...

    These aren't good organizations! They are adept at marketing, they are proficient fundraisers and expert lobbyists. So many pet lovers send money to the HSUS thinking that they are helping animals - when they are in fact filling the war chests of a scary political powerhouse.

    Why shouldn't we be concerned that the HSUS contributed to Obama's campaign? Why shouldn't we be really concerned when the HSUS endorses a candidate?

    Whatever breed the Obamas bring home I hope that it is loved and cared for (though the fact that the president has a dog handler on staff full-time helps out considerably towards that end). I also hope that whatever breed they get doesn't become a fad like cocker spaniels did after Nixon's dog "Checkers" - everyone had to have one and the breed suffered for their popularity - being popular is never good for a dog breed.

    Thursday, November 20, 2008

    Baby its cold outside

    Yeah, I tend to complain about the heat and the cold - I'm a middle of the road person myself. I have a very narrow comfort zone - if it's above 80 or below 30 I'm not a happy camper. I woke up Tuesday to three inches of snow - not enough to shovel - but enough to make my fellow drivers loose their little brains so driving to work was a real bugger with accidents all over the place causing traffic to backup everywhere. Right now it's hovering around 20 degrees and I'm not happy about it! I came home and the house (which is usually set at 68 degrees was 66 degrees. I turned up the thermostat to get the chill out and it didn't get any warmer - so...I flipped out. Having been through a week of below zero with no heat a few years ago - I'm ultra sensitive to when the furnace isn't on - so I cranked the heat to 80 - and nothing!! I guess I was just too cold to be patient because as I was looking up the number to call for service I noticed that it had gotten quite warm in here - so lesson for the night, be patient (and long underwear is your friend).

    The boys are doing well. Murphy is really enjoying agility right now - I've adopted the train don't practice vibe from the Bobbie Anderson seminar and have been breaking things down with him, rewarding more often. I'm switching up my contact behavior with both boys - and stopping to reward every contact. I'm doing the same thing with Teller breaking things down, rewarding more often and not trying specifically to get through a sequence. Teller is also working open and utility obedience stuff and seems to be doing well with that. We hadn't worked any open stuff in a couple of months, but when I broke out the dumbbell and broad jump it was right where I left it - needing some polish - but he understands the exercises...

    I hadn't planned to enter any shows until March - I'm not sure I can hold myself to that one - I'm thinking about doing one of the trials down in Amherst, NH in January - knowing full-well that I might need to add a day on either side if the weather gets really bad and we get stuck somewhere. Fortunately Q loves Nancy so if I need someone to do kitty duty he'll be well taken care of...Both of those trials have FAST so it'd be a chance to get three runs in each day - yes SIX runs a day total...With that thought still in my brain I'd better go do some treadmill work before I dremel doggie toe nails!

    Sunday, November 09, 2008

    Bobbie Anderson Seminar Notes

    Well BOTC's seminar is in the books - It was a resounding success - lots and lots of good information - This is a brain dump of sorts and I'll work through what I applied directly to my work with my dogs.

    Bobbie mentioned that nothing happens only in the ring. If there's a problem in the relationship between the dog and handler it becomes magnified in the ring - dogs that shut down, dogs that leave their handler, dogs that lag on the heeling, etc. I saw that concept a lot this weekend - little things like dogs not wanting to play with their handler and a lot of handlers bribing the dogs to do things - dog doesn't come on the recall so the handler begs and gives second and third commands at which point the dog finally returns to the handler. Bobbie insists on one command and never letting a dog release itself to anything. We get into this in class all the time - I really hate hearing people repeating "sit, sit, sit! I said SIT!" over and over again. The dogs tune them out and learn quickly that it's when mom or dad gets mad that they finally have to sit. I've always been careful not to fall into that pattern - but I'll admit it's hard when the dog is sitting on the table and doesn't seem inclined to down.

    Play - such an important part of making this fun for the dogs - engaging them and generating some impulse control - The toy belongs to you - not the dog. He shouldn't be self-rewarding with the toy - work around them all the time and don't hide the toys - I tend to do a lot of that myself - tucking tennis balls in my bra and tuggies in my back pocket. It's just not necessary - Teller needs to work around it.

    How do you define correction? Interesting concept here - and yes, I know a lot of it is entirely semantics. Correction in the positive training realm has come to mean collar pop, yank, pull, ear pinch, or some other physical method of punishment. Bobbie uses correction in the sense of correcting - or fixing. Fixes don't have the same negative association in the dog training world do they?

    Collar stuff...I was happy to see that there wasn't a rush on the prong collar or choke chain - buckle collars were for the most part the rule this weekend - a couple handlers had them - but there were no collar pops all weekend! Bobbie does advocate a fair amount of taking the dogs collar and fixing them - if they went down on a sit stay she takes the collar holds the dog in position and says something to the effect of "shame on you, you know better than that" (in that grandma voice that makes you feel so guilty for breaking the 100 year old pickle dish). Then she puts the dog back into a sit, releases asks for another sit and rewards. I have always done something similar in the sense of dog goes down, help him back up and then reward the sit - the difference here is that I was helping - in Bobbie's method you don't reward what you helped - you reward what the dog does. So once you have fixed the position you let the dog think and reward the correct behavior.

    Training vs. practicing - how much do we train and how much do we practice. The take-home here (and again semantics) was that we should do a lot more training and a lot less practicing. BUT - that's an excellent point - and I had noticed a similar thing with Teller in agility - now that he's reasonably competent in his work I had stopped breaking down behaviors as much as I need to - I was practicing when I clearly should have been training. How many times do I do a formal recall with Teller? Way too often - I should be breaking that down way more often - practicing a bit here and there to see where things are - but way more training.

    That flows into the next thought: Bobbie breaks the obedience behaviors into many many pieces and said that she rarely works the whole behavior. I've recently (this week) started the drop on recall with Teller - I was shocked when the first time I asked him to drop on a recall that he just did it. Well let's think about the pieces - I've ALWAYS asked him for random drops even in puppyhood - if he generalizes the drop - he'll get the drop on recall. So...I'm going to work more informal stuff to see if I can get even faster and more flashy DORs. This ties in so closely with the training vs practicing piece - TRAIN MORE!

    Pivots! I've never had a good left pivot - Not with Teller and really not with Murphy. I've struggled a lot with how to teach it properly and to some extent because I didn't have a clear picture of how to get there I haven't really taught it. Murphy fuddled his way through rally advanced and excellent pivots passing the exercise because of my footwork - not his understanding...I got some great advice here about working from the stand - teaching a kickback stand (which took Woo all of two reps) and then inducing the pivot - damn - it just happened!

    Teller is more or less ready for Open - more polish on a few things - lots more training :-) Utility stuff - I think I have a much better handle on how I'd like to teach things. We did a lot of marking this weekend and I'm going to work that through for both the gloves and go-outs.

    My takeaway from this weekend is that I'm a little further along with Teller than I thought he was - or he was a little further along THIS WEEKEND than I thought he was - we've got a lot of the parts and pieces, we just need to continue breaking things down - and keep things successful.

    As for our homework - Teller and I really need a better partnership - I need more control in the sense of keeping him tuned in with me - he's got this amazing amount of energy and desire to work - but I need to help him channel it - it's not going to work for both of us if he does this beautiful heel work and then lunges at someone who smiles at him as we're leaving the ring - and oh yeah - that happened this weekend and ALWAYS when I'm holding the leash in my left hand (bad wrist).

    He also wanted everyone else's dumbbell more than he wanted his own - Wheeeeee! So I think I need to back up here and go back to working sit for greeting - and impulse control!! I might even break out the grandma guilt voice..."Did you just jump on her head? Shame on you silly boy, let's try that again without the mauling of strangers". For those of you in the area don't be surprised if I ask you to throw dumbbells for your dog while Teller and I try to cope with vast amounts of excitement coming at us from all directions.

    Lastly I noticed the phenomena several times where people will insist to the seminar presenter (and to fellow participants) that "their dogs NEVER do that" or "he's never done that before" even when we've all seen their dogs do that a bunch of times in practice and at shows...I hope that I'm able to see my (our) mistakes and what we need to work on as we move forward. On the same vein I spoke to Bobbie a bit about pressure and Murphy - throwing dumbbells into populated corners of the ring, tri-colored aussies putting pressure on the weave poles, etc. The answer I got back was basically a) that's who he is and b) work through it. I know that's who he is - no surprise, working through it is hard - because he doesn't "want" it badly enough to push into that pressure bubbles. Yes, that's an excuse and in this case I'm OK with it. I also see some of the relationship issues that Bobbie mentioned - Murph still gets into these moments where he's overstimulated and starts with the tail chasing, or the jumping, etc...What are we missing from our relationship that is causing that? I'm mulling it over and I'll repost something when I have a good answer.

    So all in all a good weekend I think. It went by fast - two very long days. I'd LOVE to crawl into bed early tonight but unfortunately I've got to work tonight until about 6am (at least I'm working from home!). At around 8pm tonight I was trying to decide if I wanted to take a 4 hour nap or just work right through tomorrow evening - 40 hour day or 4 hour nap? I decided the nap would probably make things worse not better so...I'm up and will hopefully make it through the next 24 hours :-)

    Friday, November 07, 2008

    Bobbie Anderson Seminar tomorrow...

    Now that the BOTC obedience trial is officially in the books (complete with Teller's CD and RN), we've been getting ready for the Bobbie Anderson seminar. Bobbie hardly ever comes "east" to do seminars so we were really lucky to get her. So Teller and I will see what she has to say - Murph will come along too and will likely work a bit here and there. I'm really excited to hear what she has to say about motivation, weaning off the cookie. We're all so wrapped up in cookie power and I think we've done a great disservice to our dogs in that respect....there will be a lot of the east-coast "big fish" there this weekend too - which is always interesting to hear what the OTCH people have to say at this kind of seminar...

    Early morning for us - I've just cooked up some spam and some garlic tortellini for Wooie - his favorites!

    Sunday, November 02, 2008

    BOTC Day Two

    The Burlington Obedience Training Club's 2008 Obedience and Rally trial is officially in the books! All of the "stuff" that had to be setup is now broken down and packed away in the trailer - hopefully all of our exhibitors are home sitting on their sofas, sipping some tea and planning to go to bed early and I'm relaxing at home putting together today's video for your viewing pleasure :-)

    Teller was FULL of himself today - really amp'ed up and I wonder if that's how he reflects "I'm tired". Or if he didn't get enough warm-up. Or he switched brains with Riva (again). He definitely had some distractions today and once again had a hard time not mugging judges, he worked like a green dog today - which is what I should have gotten a month ago! This is something we will regroup and work on some more. At this point we've got a seminar next weekend and then we're DONE until March. That's a long winter of training and perfecting what we have - I don't know at this point if he'll come out in Novice again or if I'll move him up to open - My plan is to work open and utility but keep him out in Novice for a while.

    Rally novice went fine - I expected it to (honestly), he started off a little out of sync - but the way things went he came out of his crate and into the ring without a warm-up (a lot of the novice A dogs had stay conflict so they moved onto the B class without any warning) there was a miscommunication on a left u-turn but we fixed it (without a tight leash and only a single out of position). We lost placement by time but still ended up high scoring golden retriever (more toys)...

    Overall, a super weekend - a TIRING weekend - and at this moment (but I'm sure not so much in a few weeks) I'm actually looking forward to the winter off...We'll keep busy - and the blog will get updated, so this isn't a sign-off just a {sigh}.

    Title photos by Ruth:



    Canadian Champion

    ~SunKissed Light and Magic~

    CD RN CCA CGC CGN




    Today's video:

    Saturday, November 01, 2008

    BOTC Day One

    Another great day at the dog show! The weather was gorgeous and the people were seemingly all in good spirits - that always makes things go smoothly!

    Teller started the day in the novice Obedience ring. You know it's going to be an interesting day when the judge somewhat casually mentioned that he'd seen Teller working in the match last night and "he was SMOKIN'". Umm, OK well that's setting awfully high expectations now isn't it? Then as we're setting up for the heel on leash and Teller is vibrating (yes VIBRATING) he asks me "How many cups of coffee did he have today" - {SIGH}. We had some not so pretty moments as he was somewhat distracted by all of the energy in the space (plus the dumbbells FLYING in the next ring). But he held it together, there are pieces that aren't pretty - but he came back to work and I'm SOOO darn proud to report that my baby Woo (still 21 months) managed to get his CD in just three trials - I never would have expected a baby dog to pull that off - especially given how much of a baby dog he still is in so many ways (like wanting to mug the judge between exercise - he was FASCINATED by Mr Whitney!!!

    Then off to the rally ring for Novice Rally and while I'm standing there at the gate looking at the running order this woman comes up to me and asks "are you the woman who owns the absolutely STUNNING male golden retriever?"
    Me: "Ummmm, maybe?"
    "He's the most beautiful golden I have ever seen in my life - I watched him at the NOMAD NADAC trial in August and I was just floored at how handsome he was"
    Me: "Wow, thank you"
    "I was down at an agility trial a few weeks ago and I was talking to a golden retriever person and she brought out this beautiful female golden and I told her that she had a gorgeous dog and that she was the second most beautiful golden that I'd ever seen - that the first was this dog I saw at the NADAC trial in Vermont...."

    It turns out the bitch she was talking about was none other than Teller's littermate Truly!!! What a small world! It was an amazing compliment and I was thrilled that I got to hear it. Woo is definitely winning over the public with his personality and looks!

    Anyhow, back to rally. Teller went in the ring and owned it! I made a mistake with the leash and cost us a point and then there was some crowding on the 360 left - which were totally my fault. He finished with a score of 97 and was 4th by time. That was Teller's second RN leg - earning the first one at the nationals. To make Teller's afternoon he also was high scoring golden and won toys!! More than I could carry (he was only too happy to help carry them out for me)...

    Teller is ZONKED out tonight - sprawled over my legs on the couch - a little bead of drool on his lips. The Wooie will sleep tonight (a-whema-whet, a-whema-whet, a-whema-whet).

    Tomorrow is another day - we'll try for a bumper leg under Bob Harris (we couldn't have titled tomorrow because Bob was the obedience judge at the GRCA Specialty and AKC rules are still three legs under three judges) and try for a third rally novice leg.

    We go back to eastern standard time tonight - falling back one hour - it'll be nice to get that extra hour of sleep tonight but the shorter days can really be quite a drag on the ol' psyche! I generally don't make use of the daylight in the early morning - totally not a morning person - so I don't really have daylight gain...Now, if I were emperor - that'd be the first thing I'd change (OK maybe not the first).

    Of course I got all of this on video - and of course I put the runs to music (that may be the dressage rider in me).





    P.S. - Teller (and Murphy too) is actually tired tonight - passed out on the couch. The key metric here is that I went to take a shower and he didn't move - that is VERY uncharacteristic for Teller.

    Tuesday, October 28, 2008

    The first snow of the season...

    Living in Vermont snowy weather is something that we all accept. October usually brings some flurries (spitting snow) and November brings some snow that accumulates. Its somewhat unusual given the lake influence that we get snow that sticks to the ground - so when the obnoxiously perky weatherman smiled and forecasted snow for tonight I presumed he was being dramatic...Well, now we've got two inches of heavy wet snow outside actually sticking to the grass, trees and my deck. I worry mostly about the trees as a lot of them still have leaves - that's a lot of extra weight for the branches to support.

    When we came home from class tonight the boys had their first snow frolic - if it wasn't so damn dark I'd have taken some pictures - Teller (who rolled in something stinky this morning and had his second bath and blow dry of the week) got in a good wallow in the snow that didn't result in another bath (thank DOG - because I don't think my drains can handle a third bath without a dose of foaming pipe snake).

    It's not going below freezing tonight so I suspect that most if not all of the snow will be gone tomorrow am...its just another sign that we're deep into fall now and winter is only just around the corner. If there's a bright spot in all of this the miserable constant cold drizzle and wet snow today gave me the impetus to make some homemade chicken noodle soup for dinner: juiced celery, beans, carrots, basil and lots of fresh coursely ground pepper - it's like a big warm hug from the inside... {{{grin}}}

    I'm still oncall through Friday morning and then we've got BOTC on Saturday and Sunday - no rest for the wicked!

    Tuesday, October 21, 2008

    Debut of Teller's Pet Food Warehouse Commercial

    I've caught Teller's commercial a couple of times since it launched a couple of weeks ago - but I've been on PINS AND NEEDLES waiting for the DVDs to arrive so I could post it! Well, today I came home and guess what was in my mailbox - you guessed it!!

    Sunday, October 12, 2008

    Wildlife at Waggles...

    The nature of Williston (pretty heavily developed in an urban sprawl pattern with a few moderately sized fields in between) and the location of Waggles (in one of those "green" zones) means that there tends to be an abundance of wildlife that lives or hangs out on the property...Ducks, Turkeys, geese, deer and moose have been spotted wandering through the yard and parking lot. There's a pretty strong (and apparently healthy) pack of ground hogs that live in the back - we call him "Wally". All sorts of voles and mice find their way into the building living handsomely off the residue of dog cookies. Oh and the rabbits - my dogs in particular enjoy rolling (and then eating) rabbit poop.

    I went out to Waggles last weekend to host run-throughs and as I pulled in (listening to car talk of course) I noticed movement in the distance - there was this gorgeous blue heron (that's my identification anyway - please correct me if I'm wrong) trying to eat his breakfast. Of course I had my camera so I stalked up to it taking pictures as I went...he didn't seem to be terribly worried about me coming close to him (or her) and pretty much focused on the meal at hand. I was worried that the grey bird standing in the shade wouldn't come out well - I'm surprised at how clear the pictures came out...Enjoy!

    Initial spotting...


    Getting closer....



    And closer....


    Too close!!! Bubba the Blue Heron departs for quieter picnic locations - what a gorgeous bird!!

    Saturday, October 11, 2008

    Two for Two for Teller-Woo!!!

    Val (Huxley's mom) and I left at the crack of dawn (OK, it was 7am) to drive down to American K9 Country for the Souhegan Kennel Club show. I had intended to enter both days but it didn't work out (gee, thanks Rau) so instead of doing the hotel thing I did the day trip thing - 3 hours each way but it's all highway so it's an easy drive - made easier given the fact that I actually get sleep at night - going on 5 months now. We got there at 10:30ish thinking that we'd be on around noon - but of course we didn't end up showing until 2:45. Teller is so green I don't know what works for him in terms of getting to a new location and then working - he's never gone to an obedience trial the morning of the trial without the benefit of seeing the place beforehand (granted this is only his second trial ever so...). For Murphy this was a big deal and something he always struggled with - he really needed to get there the afternoon before, look around and then figure out where all the boogiemen were. Teller isn't Murphy though so I'm still feeling him out for what makes him tick.

    After I'd setup his crate and brought in the rest of the stuff from the car I took him out to see what I might have. My routine has always been to let Smurf settle in his crate, take him out just before we go in, have a quick potty break and then a quick warm-up and tune in. Teller came out of his crate and gave me nice attention and some nice connected heeling. Cool! So I put him away again until the class started, pottied him, worked him slightly with high rate of reinforcement and then put him away again until the first group of dogs were doing groups. Then he came out and warmed up - it was really tight quarters but it just wasn't an issue for him while we were serpentining through dogs and their handlers.

    He had some crooked sits - mostly because he's coming around to look at my face - something we will work on (there's always something). We had some leaping on the off-leash fast - which we'll work on too - but I don't want to curb his enthusiasm so we'll be really careful about that. I made a big error on the recall when I left him I wasn't clear that it was a wait and not a stand - so he stood as soon as I gave the signal but stayed there until I called him - 5 points that I had to swallow - but I'm totally OK with that!

    So he finished with a 186 - I'm pleased with him and he's pleased with himself. I promised him a cheeseburger but ended up getting him some munchkins from Dunkin' Doughnuts instead (surprisingly no McD's in that area) - which he shared with Murphy (who thinks "free" munchkins are pretty cool).

    Here's the video - Thanks Caroline for stepping up to man the camera!

    Sunday, October 05, 2008

    Feels like fall....

    I was due for a lazy day at home - just didn't turn out so lazy! I'm on-call this week (and last week too) so sleep is hard to get these days - and when I do sleep it means someone else got the pages - whoops - sorry! Last night was bad, 1am through to 5pm with misc pages - most of which I slept through - then all day today with various pages. Most were actionable so ultimately it's OK (and good money) but I will be heading to bed early tonight!!

    I caved and turned on the furnace yesterday am - I woke up and I was COLD. Fall always sneaks up on me and I'm never ready for it. I always try not to turn on the furnace until October 15th, but two nights ago it was 30 degrees overnight and my house was 49 degrees in the morning - that's just not right!!

    I went grocery shopping yesterday which was long past due because of nationals last week and then prep for nats the week before - I didn't want to leave food in the fridge so I worked my way through the yogurt and pantry items instead of shopping...You know it's bad when you're even out of canned soup!!! So today I thought I'd try to get ahead for the week and did some cooking: corn chowder, italian wedding soup and meat balls now all nicely packaged in the fridge for easy nuking and lunches during the week. Yesterday I had this overwhelming craving for some curry but decided that crusty bread and some fresh chevre would just have to do instead. I can cook curry and it's most often very tasty but then my house smells like curry for a week and that drives me nuts, especially the next morning! I was told that if the smell of curry lingers after it's been cooked and put away that you've used too much oil in the paste - but I've created curry stink using the store-bought paste with very little oil - so it just might be me!

    I worked Teller a bit in obedience today, the squirrels are out of their minds right now and are zipping all over the place oblivious to the dogs - who REALLY want to chase them! Teller did some really nice off-leash heeling while squirrels were zipping around him with their nutty treasures - we have Souhegan next weekend and thankfully I think I can guarantee that the building will be SQUIRREL FREE!!! But if there are squirrels I know he can work around them! Rau is the super for this trial - in the past they had a wonderful secretary - a club member I think, anyhow Rau screwed up my entry - putting me in Amherst on Saturday and some show in New Jersey on Sunday....ummm...what sense does that make? I know I entered correctly, hopefully they'll be able to fix it, otherwise I'll skip the hotel and just drive down Saturday AM and come back the same day. I have a friend who's only going down for the one day so if that's what I decide to do I've got a road buddy and we can split gas and go down in my rig...

    Oh - in other news....Teller's commercial is airing now and I'm hearing from all these people who have seen it - they love this and they love that and wow he's so happy...but I haven't seen it yet!!! I guess it takes some time to get into the rotation - their old one is still playing everytime I've seen a PFW commercial. I hope to get the DVD soon and I have permission to post it on YouTube when I get it, so it'll be posted here (indirectly) too.

    Saturday, October 04, 2008

    Ribbon Pictures...

    I finally made time to get some pictures of Teller with his ribbons from the national...

    Here's the standard pose shot:




    And of course here's the agility dog shot:

    Wednesday, October 01, 2008

    Cast is off...now what?

    So my cast came off on Monday, I've got a removeable brace now - I have some mixed feelings about it. On one hand it's great not to be so darn itchy in a cast. On the other - man my arm is sore. Muscles that haven't been used have a way of making you pay dearly for not using them...I think I might be relying too heavily on the brace - probably because I'm terrified of reinjuring the joint. I lost a lot of muscle in the few weeks in a cast and the range of motion that goes with it. The orthopedist wanted me to sleep without the brace and in general start using it more - sleeping without it was pretty high on the list (which I'm really afraid to do). It's nice to shower normally again - super swell to wash my hair with two hands again. At this point no physical therapy - if I'm not improving in a couple of weeks or so I need to call and set up some PT appointments.

    On a strong plus side though typing is back to mostly normal - two hands and the improved dexterity that comes with not having a cast between your thumb and index finger is a refreshing change - it's nice to be able to type out emails in less than 10 minutes of hunt and peck...

    Back to normal routine for the dogs - we trained Monday and Tuesday nights - I'm working on tightening up Teller's about turns, figure-eights and fronts. I want to clean up some of the forges we had last week on the inside turns, the bit of lagging we had on the about turns and gosh - that front last Wednesday was AWFUL - always something to work on now that I know what we're likely to have in the ring when we head to Souhegan next weekend...

    I'm oncall the rest of this week and all of next - had a rough first night last night so I think I'm going to make some soup and hit the sack early....

    More pics from Nats...


    Barbara sent me these candid shots that she took of Teller and Graeme in the ring:

    Hanging out waiting for their turn....

    Ummm....Chicken!!!

    Teller always has a knack for finding the photographer and giving them that "yeah, I see you taking my picture" look...It's uncanny.

    In the line before the cut..

    "What's next boss?"

    Saturday, September 27, 2008

    GRCA National Specialty Recap....

    What a week in Rhode Island...Here's a recap of our successes (yes, plural), some video and some pictures:

    Sunday:
    BEASTLY HOT for late September - well over 80 degrees and so muggy setting up the tents, crates, chairs, etc. BUT the club was wonderful and had golf carts helping us drag stuff out into the field....

    Monday:
    YGRC Agility. OK we confirmed that Murphy MUCH prefers indoor trials. Teller was outstanding in all of his runs - videos were hit or miss but I've posted his JWW run from Monday. No Q's and some baby mistakes but holy cow he's fun to run!!!

    Tuesday:
    GRCA Agility. Q and 4th place for Teller in JWW on what I'd consider a trappy course for novice dogs, lots of turns and changes of direction - super run, well under time and we had SOOO Much fun. No video though (bummer).

    Wednesday:
    Day off!! Well deserved too - I had 12 agility runs Monday and Tuesday (3 runs each dog, 6 runs a day for two days). I did some shopping and tried to give the boys some time to relax. Sister Diva took forth in BBE with Kara.

    Thursday:
    Our busy day!!! Teller started with AmBred with Graeme and made the first two cuts - was at one point in 3rd place but finished 6th (though I thought it was 5th) - out of a class of 30 I'm thrilled - way to go Wooie. As soon as he finished in the breed ring we ran (literally) up to the obedience ring for Novice B - another swing out of the park for my Woo - 189.5 and his first Obedience leg (first try). As soon as the class was pinned we raced off to the CCA where Teller (who was at this point finally tired) passed his CCA too!!!

    Friday:
    Rain like you wouldn't believe - seriously Warwick got over 2.5 inches of rain - it was SOOOO wet! We had rally first thing and they had moved rally to the side of the tent (where dogs had pottied all week long (and at the portie specialty the week before). Teller knocked another one out of the park with a score of 99 (one tight leash which was totally me fumbling with the leash on a right finish with my cast). He missed 4th place out of 80 dogs by a second...So proud of my Woo!!!

    Saturday:
    Pack up and drive home...Make videos and update the blog :-)

    Thursday's Obedience Run



    Monday's Agility and Thursdays AmBred Class:



    Pictures from Thursday Conformation:


    The Exam....



    Gaiting...




    The point...

    Saturday, September 20, 2008

    Rhode Island here we come!!!

    Oh our bags are packed (except for the stuff in the dryer), we're ready to go...the truck is waiting, I hope it won't snow...We're LEEEAVING for Rhode Island - can't wait to go to nationals...Apologies to John Denver for butchering his song...

    OK, a bit of creative license there...Finally almost packed - a couple of pairs of jeans in the dryer and the laptop will wait until later (or the morning). I've been to the grocery store and we've got water, snacks and soda (a point of note it is NOT easy to load a case of water in your rig with a broken wrist (sigh).

    Ran errands all freakin' day - but...we're ready!! Anything that's forgotten can be purchased on the road...Oh and Kara - I bought some blueberry vodka - YUMMMMMM!





    Sunday, September 14, 2008

    Shelburne Museum Goes to the Dogs...

    Today was the annual Shelburne Museum Goes to the Dogs event - sponsored by Pet Food Warehouse, Natura (Innova, California Natural) and Eagle Pack. The whole museum opens to dogs and local groups and businesses setup booths or demos. I went for BOTC and did an obedience demo with Teller (and sort of demo'ed with Murphy).

    The demos went well - spectators were polite and appreciative...Teller was awesome!!! He did not one, not two but four sessions in the ring - each time he was honest and stayed in the game - a little longing leer on an about turn (off-leash) at a little girl standing over the ring gating eating ice cream - but came right back into heel without another command. His heelwork was nice, his recalls and stand for exams were super and his stays...well...let's just say I was really pleased with him...Not one but TWO dogs broke while lined up next to him - and by broke I mean galloped after their owners - Teller looked at me totally puzzled like "what the heck are they doing - don't they know they're supposed to stay?" and I swear he smirked when they got in trouble and put back in line :-)

    We had 6 dogs take the CGC test and probably 40 people try rally with their dogs...A good day I think!!! No pictures unfortunately - got too busy.

    Wednesday, September 10, 2008

    updates and thoughts...

    I made a tough decision today - I'm going to scratch Teller from the junior hunt test at the national specialty. He's not ready yet - bumpers yes, birds no. I ran out of time and I don't want him to have a bad experience and its just stupid to bring him out in field stuff right now...That still leaves agility, obedience, rally, breed and the CCA for him - which is enough for both of us. That means the end of our quest for the triathalon award - but there's a lot more time to show his versatility - he can do it, but he needs more time and I need a better idea of what I need to be doing.

    His agility and obedience work is going like gangbusters, he's SUCH a little worker and I'm starting to realize just how different my boys are! Murphy has always struggled to focus, especially new places - Teller and I have gone to 4 different outdoor locations this week to work obedience - and every time he comes out of the car he's ready to work - nice focus and his usual full-on attitude. The more people who are watching him the better he is. On the agility course he's still green - but so so so fast, tuned in and really enjoying himself out there - in obedience too. I am having so much fun training both dogs these days, it doesn't matter what happens at nats.

    Murphy isn't working a lot right now, he's having some time off and just playing agility - that's all he's entered for Nats - granted he's doing novice FAST (we don't have trails with FAST around here), Open Standard and Excellent Jumpers both days (as is Teller) so he'll get plenty of work in RI.

    Both boys are adapting to my cast and handling - probably more than I have honestly...Working agility on my left is really hard for both of them right now - so I have to be more clear but it's OK and its TEMPORARY!!!!!

    I'm still feeling bummed about my wrist - its frustrating in a cast - I just can't do some of the things I've always done - one of the most frustrating things is the boy's toenails - I have to beg people to dremel for me. I was getting ready for bed the other night and instinctively tried to take my cast off (nice try right?). It doesn't hurt anymore and I can type two handed again - and have quite a bit of movement in my wrist in the cast - enough to flex my wrist to type - so that's helpful. I need to bust out my monthly reports tomorrow at work. It's nice to be able to use the hand again - this weekend I'm going to vacuum!

    This Sunday is Shelburne Museum Goes to the dogs - Murphy and Teller are both going, it should be a fun day - Teller will get to do obedience demos and Murphy will work the crowd as a therapy dog and my assistant for CGC testing. I'll try to get some videos and pictures if I can get someone to operate the camera...

    Wednesday, September 03, 2008

    Rumble 2008 - Murphy and Q

    Finally filmed Murph and Q playing last night...They do this almost every night -especially on nights when Teller got to train and Murphy didn't - which has improved Murphy's work ethic considerably!

    Tuesday, September 02, 2008

    Rolling ponies...

    You know how a clean pony always rolls as soon as you turn it out? I mean right off the trailer from a show they find the most succulent patch of mud and they wallow? Mrs. B - was very skilled at this. Well when they took my split off today for x-rays and a permanent cast I scratched - and scratched and scratched - grinning from ear to ear...and it's only been a week!!! Can't imagine what'll happen in 4 weeks when I get this bugger off for good!

    Mrs. B (half hippo/half pony)- post-bath roll - I can still hear the campers screaming in semi-disgust!


    The good news is that I'm sort of typing two handed again - whew - what a relief - I might be able to get work done again!!! I can also move my elbow - yay!! I was so happy with my new limited mobility...also my pain is gone - the pain I was having yesterday and today was the splint pushing against my wrist bone and was pressure sore - that's gone now - and while the cast is cumbersome it only goes to my knuckles and mid-way down my forearm.

    So! Progress!! It makes more things possible!!

    Saturday, August 30, 2008

    Update...

    Thanks for all of the well wishes and offers of dinners and help - I love you guys! One of the things that is very hard for me is asking for and accepting help - even if I need it. I'm just so used to being self-reliant that it's really frustrating to admit that I can't do something. It's all the little things that I can't do that are driving me mad - emptying the trash, making the bed, opening cans and bottles, taking stuff out of the oven (microwave too), changing the pool filter, clipping the dogs' toenails, putting my hair in a pony tail...silly stuff that I always have taken for granted. I can't drive on the meds and I can't see straight off the meds - took the bus to a work lunch yesterday - I had forgotten why I don't take the bus! Weird people and it takes forever to get anywhere - but the curry was excellent at the Tiny Thai (as always of course) and it got me out of the house - which was good.

    Went to the fair to work today - didn't take meds so I could drive was ok until about 12 hours after the last dose and then I was one hurtin' cowgirl!! I'm back on track now though.

    Wednesday, August 27, 2008

    I'm broken!

    Well it was such an awesome summer! I knew the "ride" had to end sometime. I went out to Lake Iroquois this evening to throw some bumpers for Teller. Had a great session and thought I'd let Teller do some fishing - put him on leash as a boat was coming in and walked into the water down the concrete ramp and down I went. Went straight into the ER - soaking wet with the boys stuck in the car - and waited for two hours. X-rays saw a couple of breaks...so I'm splinted until I can get a cast (week or so). The splint covers the elbow and halfway up my upper arm - which is going to make training tough - breed handling impossible (CCA and Conformation at the nats), agility difficult and TDB for the hunt test rally and obedience....Not to mention working - I do a lot of typing and while I'm usually pretty speedy this one handed hunt and peck stuff sucks!

    I'm in a lot of pain - and I've got a high pain threshold - so I know it's bad! They gave me really good drugs - which are going to make me stupid. Ultimately I'll be OK - probably no surgery - but I'm really bummed right now. I can't even dress myself or get my bra off - I couldn't even take my dinner out of the microwave....it's really hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel....and throws a lot of stuff up in the air right now...

    P.S. - it took me 30 minutes to type this. So bummed!

    Thursday, August 21, 2008

    Field Training

    Well, I think I've mustered the nerve to enter Teller in the Junior Hunt test at the National. We went out tonight and did some bumpers with my neighbor throwing the bumper for me - Teller held his line and raced out to the bumper and back. We don't have a great formal sit in heel to give the bird back, but I'm not going to sweat that part with him yet - he's happily retrieving the bumper to hand. The junior hunter is just singles - which works in our favor - the WC has some doubles - I need to keep it simple for my own benefit!

    Sunday, August 17, 2008

    NOMAD NADAC Day Woo (Two)

    Well 5:30 this morning came WAY TOO freakin early for my liking. It was cool this morning and super foggy on the interstate driving down to Stowe. Once we got there the sun came out and it was moderately hot - I was definitely a shade-seeking critter for sure! Here's the run-down from today's runs:

    Standard I:
    In all a good start - We had a bobble at the offside weave entry - but he came back OK and did a good job - I need to support him more on some jumps - he's a green dog who's doing really well - but he's still a green dog and I have to remember that. Second Place!

    Standard II:
    Comic relief for the day! Again I need to support him more and work on contact/tunnel discrimination. I haven't done a lot of this with him and certainly need to work more. Another offside bobble at the weaves - this time he popped out at pole four, came back in and popped out at pole four then got them - Again, I didn't support him enough in the weaves and we got disconnected (it was really me not him). He did manage to pick up the cone at the end of the dogwalk (while hitting his contact) and carry it through the rest of the course (several jumps and the Aframe).

    Jumpers:
    I did an alternate jumpers course - I didn't walk it because I didn't want to be tempted to do more than I should have - so I did a two jump lead-out, was VERY careful to support him on the jumps that I had lead out, then did a left turn and partied out over the last jump - I needed to be a better handler than I was in the standard run and in this case that meant making the jumpers run SUPER successful and ensure that I didn't make any mistakes with him. He's such a giving dog when he's working and I need to hold up my end of the team.

    Touch and Go:
    Teller seems to like the touch and go - though neither of us really understand those damn hoop things!!! TnG had tunnels, hoops, the dogwalk and the A-Frame. I haven't done hoops with Teller because I didn't think we'd see them in anything but hoopers. We got around the first 3/4 of the course without a problem then he came out of a tunnel and I cued him to the hoop and he didn't understand what I was asking - so we had to regroup and then finish the course - we did regroup and finished successfully. Another Second Place.

    Tunnelers:
    I knew that Teller would LOVE this class and he totally did - a course of just tunnels!!! His run was gorgeous - he was having fun and we finished well under time (SCT was 32 seconds). Another Second Place.

    Teller apparently likes RED this weekend! So the haul for the weekend was one First, six Seconds and one Fourth. Two Touch and Go legs, One Standard Leg and one Tunnelers Leg. Eight toys and three placement biscuits. Not too shabby for my baby's first weekend out on the agility field. I was so pleased that he finished the weekend as happily as he began the weekend - didn't have any puppy brainfarts - stayed with me even when I was a BAD handler and he lavished his adoring public (spectators and fellow exhibitors) with love and lots of tail wags. Every time he stepped into the ring he did so with confidence and his "hey y'all - look at me" attitude. I'm THRILLED that he didn't once mug the judge, the ring crew, gate steward, timer or scribe! I worked out of my truck this weekend and both dogs settled beautifully when it wasn't their turns to run or go for a walk. So many successes! Now Teller is done until the national - I really can't wait!

    Here's today's video - just Standard I, Touch and Go and Tunnelers:

    Saturday, August 16, 2008

    Tellerific Day at the NADAC Trial

    I entered Teller in the local NADAC trial because I wanted to see where he was training-wise. He's super in practice - how does that hold up in competition? We're entered at the National and I needed to validate that decision. I chose to start him in NADAC instead of AKC because I don't compete in NADAC events and I hoped that I wouldn't be tempted to go for legs and titles (thus freeing things up to have fun with Teller while not applying any pressure) and because NADAC allows training in the ring (if something was broken I could spend time to fix it instead of getting whistled out of the ring.

    So we got up at 5:30 (AM) and left the house around 6:15ish - got to Topnotch Field around 7 - the classes ran Elite, Open then Novice and started with Chances, Weavers, Standard 1, Standard 2, Hoopers and finally Jumpers. Two things worth noting before I outline the runs. First is that hoopers is a weird class without intuitive rules - I was entered with Teller because I opted for the "Costco Package" that included all of the runs for a discounted price and also because I figured if I needed it I could use it for a startline training and boogie out of the ring... Second...both the weavers class and the touch and go class had hoops in them - which Teller had never seen before. So I make my way over to the practice hoop and sent Teller through it - not an issue - he got it (he didn't see the point - but he got it). OK Onward and upward - here's the rundown from today:

    Chances:
    The first class of the day - the real test of what Teller is going to do. He held a nice startline and other than getting sucked back into the tunnel (not sure what happened there), then me failing to support him on the second half of the gamble and then choosing the tunnel over the dogwalk on the discrimination it was a nice run - more things to be pleased than to be concerned about. Other than that weird Tunnel thing he was with me and focused the entire time - SO much fun!!! Chances is pass/fail - and we failed BUT - even with that nonsense he was under time in a venue with MUCH tighter times than AKC.

    Weavers:
    Weavers uses the same course for all three levels - a very trappy course for a baby dog - Tunnel to hoop to hoop to weaves with a tunnel off the second hoop. Teller eyed in on that tunnel and galloped happily through it - I can't fault him for enjoying himself - and he got his off-side entry when he came back. Another couple of bobbles but he finished just a bit over time even with all of those mistakes - and from the video he's ABSOLUTELY having fun!!! Second Place!

    Standard 1:
    Another nice run and I'm bummed it wasn't on video - it was "filmed" but I can't find it on the camera - I think the videographer forgot to hit the record button - no big deal. It was a beautiful run but Teller knocked two bars - both were my fault when I wasn't clear with direction and he looked over his shoulder to see where I was and what was next. First Place!

    Standard 2:
    Super run - Gawd I love my WOO!!! Clean run 15 seconds under time (remember this is NADAC time)! Second Place and standard leg.

    Touch and GO:
    Teller was ON FIRE! He's now running his fifth class of the day and he's STILL fast, STILL having fun, listening and getting his contacts. Well under time and a second place by tenths of a second.

    Jumpers:
    I did a HUGE lead-out on this one and totally failed to support him on the three jumps that I had led out. He got the first one and went around #2. So I took him back and he never disconnected - we had to go back for a couple of jumps (my fault for again not supporting him and also baby/green dog stuff) - but he stayed in the game and when all was said and done he was only slightly over time (can you believe that). Fourth Place!

    We didn't leave grounds until 7:45 PM!!! It was a LONG day and I'm still up! I haven't eaten dinner yet either - so I think I'll skip dinner and go to bed after I get the video uploaded. In all I think Teller got better with each run (jumpers was 100% my fault) and I'm so pleased that he's coming together so darn well...He's a SUPER WOO!

    Not to outdone, Murphy wasn't entered but came along for the ride. Some old friends stopped by to see the boys - missed Teller's run but Murphy came out to say hello. The kids were really into dogs and wanted to see Murph weave (he was happy to show off) and jump. Afterwards the kids lined up and got to jump Murphy over a jump (take a jump, get a cookie - nice work if you can get it). The kids were all late with their jump commands so I just sent Murph over the jump and had the kids running next to him - they thought they did it and Murph got lots of cookies and some much appreciated attention (center of attention).

    Teller is ACTUALLY tired - but he's also very pleased with himself - I swear he's SMILING!!! It's nearly 11pm and I've got to get up at 5:30 tomorrow - I suspect I'll wake up at 5:30 and then lounge in bed (can you technically lounge in bed at 5:30am?) until 6 and then get myself on the road. I can't wait to see what he does tomorrow!!!

    Here are the runs from today: