Saturday, February 28, 2009

Catching up...

Well here we are the last day of February (also Lee's Birthday - Happy Birthday Lee!) and I'm significantly behind on my blog. There have been lots of things going on around here - good and bad - we've been really busy!

First I'm struggling with getting my dogs out and about for just exercise. We've had a number of thaws followed by deep freezes. Leaving the yard either sheets of ice (like today) or crusty sharp snow or really deep snow that I don't want the boys galloping through on a daily basis. I've really been trying to get out for field trips places where the footing is better - but most of our usual places have similar footing problems. So Teller has had some treadmill time on the days when the footing is really bad or it's pouring rain and 33 degrees.

When there's not a lot of salt on the roads and sidewalks I try to get them out for a couple of miles on the flexi - I'm thinking about investing in a springer bike attachment (and a bike). There's not a lot I can do on pavement - I worry about them tearing up their feet. The one place I've found that is consistently good footing is the race track at the fairgrounds - but...we can only get in there when there isn't an event over there - which is really hit or miss - mostly miss. The one thing in our favor is that they days are getting longer. I can get them out for something before work and if I can get home by five I can get the dogs out for half an hour of stuff after work. Murphy objects to this routine because it delays his dinner time by another hour...Murphy isn't really the one I'm trying to condition either.

Training is going well on a number of fronts - and we're retraining a couple of things. I worked a bit to get Teller's heeling more animated - I want the prancing foot flicking - I can't help it - I want FLASHY! In the process of getting animation - and reinforcing for animation I got forging - BAD FORGING! I'm not surprised really - we always lose a little something when we add something else. So I've gone back and balanced the animation with positioning. Things are improving - drastically - and we're back on track. My biggest utility block - and it was totally me - was the directed retrieve exercise - specifically the pivots. I was having trouble visioning the left pivot where I wanted to be in relation to where they had to be, what my criteria was for footwork and my criteria for their body position. Well, I got it - and I'm happy with my left pivots now - but again it created some problems on my finishes - Teller wants to curl around behind me - his front feet and shoulders are square and straight, his spine and rear were crooked. So I had to go back and fix that as well. The rest of his open work is going well - I moved him up to the 24" high jump and it's not an issue for him. He's always seen a 4 board (48") broad jump so that wasn't an issue.

Our agility is going well too. Teller is seeing some 24" jumps there and he hasn't blinked. Our rate of dropped bars is still down and going down further. When bars come down now they are absolutely my fault - mostly if I stop my motion he'll stop his. The good news is that it's forcing me to be a better handler - and that's good for both of us.

For a long time I struggled with running Teller like I run Murphy and then running Murphy like I run Teller. I now have to walk courses twice - once for Murphy and once for Teller. I have some really nice lateral distance with Teller - and can get away with a lot of front crosses. I'm still driving with Murphy and tend to have more rear crosses. Though as a whole my experience with Teller has improved my confidence on the front crosses with Murphy too.

I entered a very limited Obedience and Rally trial in March in NH. It's a one day show put on my the local collie club in conjunction with their specialty. One judge for all obedience entries (36) and rally entries (60). I entered back in October before Teller had earned his second CD leg - so obviously I entered Novice. I've been going back and forth about whether I should keep him in Novice or move him up to Open. I've gone back and forth on it for a while. Ultimately deciding that he's ready to try open...his stays have been solid - the last few times we've worked them he's been next to dogs that have significantly broken their stays, left, visited, went down on the sit, got scolded, etc and he was rock solid. There is peace on my conscience that if he NQ's its unlikely to be on the stays....though never say never.

I also entered him out in Open a couple of days in Syracuse - though we can always decide to pull if things don't go well in Amherst. There were inexpensive hotel rooms and some good company to visit with while we're out there.

Murphy is Murphy. We've gotten out to do some therapy work - which he loves. At the Glens Falls shows Murphy got to be a social butterfly - showing off his tricks to the public. He loves showing off his tricks!!

In real life I've buckled down and started down the Windows 2008 certification path. My goal is to take the 10 exams before trial season begins in April (well March). We're cutting back on trials this year...Probably just the local one in April, a couple of away trials in May, one agility trial in June - not sure yet about July and August - We've got a little time to figure things out. Unfortunately two of our favorite (and usual) trials conflict this year. Our sleep in our own bed conformation/obedience show and the YGRC agility in Derry - we LOVE the Derry site! Then our GMGRC agility trial conflicts with the Hopkinton shows as the Hopkinton people (Lakes Region) decided to break out of the Scenic Cluster (they were Weds/Thurs) and move onto their own weekend. I can't say I blame them - it's far easier for most of us to do shows on weekends than ones solidly in the middle of the week - along with that most of us have very little interest in doing five straight days of shows - especially obedience shows for five days in a row.