Thursday, September 30, 2010

That last run...

A very good friend of mine recently lost her heart dog - suddenly. More than a multiple MACH dog, more than a world-team dog, more than an all-star dog - she was a loving and loved companion - their souls entwined. I think that we all thought that this dog had a lot more runs in front of her - living a life of semi-retirement and perhaps stepping into the role of a canine instructor to a promising junior handler. That's not to be now - and my heart aches for them. Not because of the runs - but because of the loss of a great dog who gave so freely and cosmically had so much more to give.

Kasei CGC TDV
April 2, 1997 - November 25, 2005
Kasei could have been an amazing performance dog if I 
knew then what I know now...He had his faults - but he was
a good and loyal friend. He's been gone nearly five years 
now, but he is missed every single day.
It's a moment like this where we need to pause and look at the bigger picture - take stock of what really matters and more importantly why we've decided to play this game. We hear the awful news, shed tears and go home to hug our dogs close to us - we tell them we love them - we're grateful that for the moment we weren't the ones who had to say goodbye. We've got to keep a piece of that with us - we're lucky every time we step into the ring (or onto the training floor) with our dogs. A lot of people on this planet don't get to have weekends off,  or time to spend with our doggie friends and the time to spend with our dogs and enjoying the experience...

If we're frustrated or exasperated with our dogs we need to stop and take a step back. Maybe three step backs. And this is the toughest bit for me to get through to my students sometimes, our dogs are trying - but they're going to have good days and bad - good runs and not so good runs - but remember, we never get to choose when we have that last run with our dogs. Never get mad at your dog. It's great to get that super tough weave-pole entry - and we'll keep working to proof the hard stuff - while working to be a better team, but it's so important to cherish the good with the bad as part of the process.

Murphy is retired from competition, he trains some - but for the most part he's a spoiled and lazy "old man" who sometimes doesn't think the rules apply to him. As much as it makes me crazy when he attempts (and succeeds) to counter-surf or steals socks out of the hamper, he's here...he's happy and he's healthy.

Teller is a maniac sometimes (he still can't seem to greet a friend without doing his very best bowling ball impression) - he is unrestrained joy. Teller has more heart than most people I know, he's so in the moment: the joy of the moment, life in the moment. Bad things, unpleasant things are gone as soon as they're over. He doesn't carry baggage or hold a grudge. Teller plays my silly reindeer games because I ask him to - he's honest, he's dependable and when I have my act together he's amazing - in whatever it is I ask of him.

At this moment I realize how lucky I am to have both of them sleeping at my feet right now - Murphy softly snoring and Teller watching Q skulk around the kitchen waiting for his dinner. And I remember how it's very likely that Teller and I have many more competitive runs ahead of us and Murphy has many more counter-surfing sessions ahead of him - it's not about getting to the end. It's about enjoying the moments, enjoying the ride and enjoying the games that we get to play with our dogs. Never - EVER - not for one millisecond take that for granted.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Advanced Agility - Thursday September 30th, 2010

For your enjoyment (giggle) here's the course for tomorrow night's Advanced Agility class...Emphasis on handling this week. First time through work your rear-crosses  at #5, #8, #10 and #14. On the second time through front crosses before #4, #8, #9, and #13. If we have time for a third round (and I hope we do) we'll run a "handlers' choice" of front and rear crosses.

Also, unless it's raining or slippery (which honestly looks pretty darn likely at this point with 2-4" of rain forecast for tomorrow), plan to take some time between your runs to work a-frame contacts outside - So bring something extra yummy for treats...Teller recommends Tuna Brownies.



Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sequences in Small Places

I didn't have a lot of time tonight - no time to pack up stuff to go to the school to train, Teller needed (wanted) to work tonight so I decided to set something up in the front yard. My backyard is larger - but between being a dog zone (landmines) and the pool there's not a lot of usable space back there. so off to the front yard we went. As you can see the mature trees in the front yard (while lovely) do require some thought to work around them...I didn't plan any of these sequences - I just doodled around with some handling skills and pushing a bit in terms of speed and getting to where I needed to be. Teller worked like a champ (as usual really). Good Woo.

Sequence #1: Front-cross after the teeter; I handled the weave entry from 
behind #5

Sequence #2: The same weave entry as above.

Sequence #3: Front-crosses before #3, #4, #6 and #7.

Sequence #4: The teeter has rotated 180 degrees for the last two sequences.
Front-crosses before #3 and #6.

Sequence #5: Wrap/Front-Cross #4

Four Jumps - Backyard sequences Part Eleven

Ready for another set of Four-Jump sequences? For part eleven things get a little trickier.




Start in motion (no lead-out) with dog on your right. Front-crosses between 2-3, 4-5 and 5-6. 




Again, no lead out. Start with the dog on your left, front-crosses at 2-3, 4-5 and 5-6.


Start with dog on your right - Front-cross between 4-5  - try running this sequence without adding any other crosses.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Recipe for Tuna Brownies (aka Tuna Fudge)

In a recent discussion on high value treats, I mentioned one of the boys' favorites: TUNA BROWNIES. Super high value, reasonably healthy and pretty easy (though a bit stinky) to make. Since the topic was at hand, I thought I'd share my recipe for tuna brownies (aka Tuna Fudge).


You will need the following ingredients:
2 cans (or pouches) of tuna** - packed in water.
2 whole eggs
2 cups flour
1.5 cups water
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (Kraft green topped shaker is fine)
1/8 cup minced garlic (garlic powder is OK - but use less).
1tsp salt - kosher is preferable

Method:
     ~ Empty cans (or pouches) into a blender or food processor. Add eggs and water (if using pouched tuna you will probably need more water). Liquefy until mixture is a paste/puree consistency.
     ~ Combine flour, cheese and garlic powder in a bowl, pour in tuna puree and mix well. You are aiming for a brownie batter consistency - add more water or flour if necessary.
     ~ Pour into an oiled (I prefer coconut oil) 9x12 baking dish, spread dough evenly. I like the larger pans as the resulting brownie is easier to cut into small pieces from a single layer - though you can use a smaller pan.
     ~ Bake in a 325 degree oven for 45-60 minutes - until a toothpick comes out clean.
     ~ Cool 15 minutes in the pan, then over-turn pan onto parchment paper or a bakers' rack. Cut brownies (that look a bit more like "blondies") with a pizza wheel while brownies are still warm. I aim for bullion sized cubes, though the cooled product can be further broken down into pea sized pieces during training.

Tuna brownies are shelf-stable unrefrigerated for a few hours - but really should be refrigerated/frozen if not used within 24 hours - mine never last long enough to go bad :-) Alternate "brownie" recipes include swapping the tuna for an equal quantity of homemade Macaroni and Cheese (aka Mac and Cheese brownies), canned chicken (aka Chicken Brownies) or Liver (aka liver brownies). I've tried all of the above recipes with great success - all were big hits with my dogs - but also all of the class dogs that tried them! Caveat emptor: I won't make the liver brownie recipe again - even as a super high value treat it was just too much gore for a blender and that's all I'll say about that.....

** We like BumbleBee Tuna - for no other reason than the Mephiskapheles BumbleBee Tuna "Yum-Yum" song. "Yum yum Bumble, Bumblebee Tuna; I Love Bumblebee, Bumblebee Tuna; Yum yum Bumble, Bumblebee Tuna. I love a sandwich made with Bumblebee". Just the girls!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Now some shots with the OLD camera.

For some comparison pictures - here are some shots with the five year old Kodak Z760 - 6.1MP. Since the day I got it, this Kodak has been old reliable. After playing with the Sony Cybershot DSC-W370, I'm having some serious doubts about whether or not I really want to replace it.

Teller waiting (somewhat patiently) while I setup for class this afternoon. I love the 
fall colors and light...When the sky almost has a translucent quality.
Kodak Z760

Teller is always game to model. Put your ears up. OK!
Kodak Z760

Autumn afternoon light. Love it!
Kodak Z760
One more head/foliage shot of Teller-Woo.
Kodak Z760

Murphy over the wing jump. For this series the light had changed some. While 
Teller's table shots were taken at noon, it's now a little after 3pm and the brightness
of afternoon is gone.
Kodak Z760


Murphy on the table - being marginally obedient at the moment.
Kodak Z760

And the last shot for the day....Teller over the wing. Milliseconds after this shot 
Teller knocked me for a loop. Best not to try to take pictures in the landing zone.
I do think that the lens quality/shutter speed is better here vs. the Sony Cybershot. I can see 
Teller's feet - no blur even under similar motion.
Kodak Z760 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sunday Sequencing - September 26th, 2010

Hoping for nice weather tomorrow for our Sunday Sequencing session.. Here are the plans for the afternoon - if we have time (and dog power) left we might try for something inside as well....

Sequence #1 is all about discrimination! Tunnel/Tunnel and Tunnel/A-Frame!

Sequence #2 is a more traditional modified standard course.

What's for breakfast? Hint: it's a big chunk of raw meat

Now that we're home more than on the road, I'm consciously making the effort to consistently put my dogs on raw food again - at least for this rotation and until things get super busy again (soon) with work and life. A few years ago I fed exclusively raw - grinding my own chicken and buying Bravo in bulk every month. But, if I've got a bit of time for this rotation (3-4 months) let's see if I can sustain the momentum on raw. Besides, with the options from The Honest Kitchen we really don't have to try to travel with raw food any more.

Because I'm trying to keep them to TCM cool foods right now I'm somewhat limited in my selection. All the manufacturers have lots of chicken grinds and mixes available (chicken is somewhat less expensive) and some with novel proteins, but I really had to look for a pre-made mix that was a TCM cool blend.

Primal Pet Food's Canine Turkey & Sardine Formula
One of the cool blends I decided to try was from Primal Pet Foods - Turkey and Sardine Mix. Containing lots of bone and protein - heavy on the turkey and sardines.
Ingredients: Turkey Necks, Turkey Wings, Whole Sardines, Turkey Hearts, Turkey Livers, Organic Collard Greens, Organic Squash, Organic Celery, Cranberries, Blueberries, Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, Almonds, Organic Cilantro, Organic Ginger, Organic Coconut Oil, Alfalfa, Spirulina, Mixed Tocopherols (source of vitamin E).


The boys loved their primal! I fed one part Honest Kitchen Preference to two parts Primal. I found that the boys didn't require any adjustment - and honestly you can't get any easier than to feed a raw pre-mix. Thaw one patty at a time and you're ready to go. The problem is of course that you pay for convenience. At $38 for eight lbs of patties it could get really pricey to feed a couple of hungry and fit golden retrievers.

The Honest Kitchen's Preference
The Primal Formula was complete - I technically didn't need to add THK preference - but I'd been looking for a reason to try Preference. I'm currently an Honest Kitchen Ally - which means that I'm lucky enough to be able to share Honest Kitchen samples with folks in the dog community. At one point or another I've fed all of the Honest Kitchen's formulas - except preference. If I'm going to recommend the product to others, we'd best eat our own dog food right?

By design preference is a pre-mix. It's an incomplete diet to which you add your own meat - in varying ratios depending on age and activity levels. This would allow an owner to hit up all of the sales at the grocery store for turkey, chicken, beef, fish, etc or to tailor their dog's diet based on allergies. Your dog can't eat flax and must eat white fish? Bingo - make friends with your local fish monger and pick up a box of preference and you're good to go.
Ingredients: Alfalfa, sweet potatoes, cabbage, celery, apples, spinach, organic kelp, coconut, bananas, zucchini, honey, tricalcium phosphate, choline chloride, zinc amino acid chelate, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, potassium iodide, potassium chloride, iron amino acid chelate, copper amino acid chelate

I loved the earthy smell of Preference's alfalfa - it reminded me of the hay cubes that one of the stallions at Hardscrabble had to eat. Karny was retired and had contracted heaves years before, so he ate his portion of hay in cubed and rehydrated form. Not unlike Honest Kitchen actually...My two gobbled up preference and licked their bowls (and my spoon) clean.

Turkey and Chicken grinds from Vermont Raw
Eatting LOCAL!!!!
We also picked up a couple of grinds from a local raw food company "VT Raw". Like the folks from Primal - the foods from VT Raw come in two basic formulas - one that is just meat and bones and another formula that is a complete diet - bones, vegetables, fruits, etc.
I elected for the basic grinds - this gives me the option to add my own pre-mix.
Turkey formula Ingredients: Ground turkey bones, turkey meat and organ meat

I also picked up a couple of tubes of their chicken grind formula as well - it's frozen so it'll keep for a few weeks until I'm ready to cut the boys over to a bit of chicken.

Oma's selection of foods: Meat and bone grinds, 
necks,  marrow bones, tripe, ground mixes - 
including novel proteins  like Kangaroo!!
PFW also carries a full line of Oma's products - both grinds and mixes. Again, I'll leave the mixes on the shelf and stock up on the grinds. A couple more 10# tubes of ground turkey and one large 5# tube of green tripe - which smells as bad as you might think it does, but the goldens go absolutely ga-ga over! Yummy delicious stinky tripe. Equally tempting are the whole mackerel - which is another 'outdoor' meal around here.

Primal's Sardine Grind
Also available in turkey, chicken, beef,
buffalo, sardine and lamb.
I'm quite well stocked for the next few weeks - you should see the contents of our freezer - between bags and bags of apple pie filling (from our tree), huge tubes of ground turkey, tripe and chicken, a couple of bags of Primal formulas and of course the assorted menagerie of frozen birds (feathers included). When the time comes to reorder I plan to special order some of the Primal Grinds - specifically the turkey and the sardine - both of which are available in 2lb and 5lb sleeves (chubs). This will allow me to mix 1 part turkey to one part sardine to one part preference for my 'cool' mix..


The Honest Kitchen's Embark
This brings us back to The Honest Kitchen's Embark for the times when (like every busy pet owner) I forget to thaw dinner - or more often than not, underestimate the length of time it takes a 10# tube of ground up turkey bits to thaw enough to portion out for dinner. I also can't rave enough over the ease of feeding The Honest Kitchen. It travels well - gone are the days (for me) of a meat cooler in the car for their raw food (I don't miss melting ice, water seeping into my containers of raw food creating salmonella-cooler soup) and then packing another car cooler for cooked foods and dog treats, beverages and snacks.

I can keep tupperware containers of my Honest Kitchen food with me on the road and have their dinners ready in five minutes - which is a really big deal for my two starving golden retrievers.

Friday, September 24, 2010

New camera...what do you think?

Little Wooie Appleseed
September 24th, 2010
Sony Cybershot DSC-W370
I've been looking at upgrading my digital camera for a while - I have two older kodaks that have served me faithfully for nearly 6 and 7 years. One 5MP (Kodak DX4530 with a Kodak lens) and one 6MP (Kodak Z760 with a Schneider-Kreuznach Variogon lens). They take decent shots - but I know how much technology and lenses have improved in all that time. So while I was at costco today I spent some time looking through their mid-range camera selection. I'd LOVE an SLR - I've played with the Nikons and Canon's - but they aren't in the cards right now. So of the dozen or so that I could play with, I was looking for a good compromise between cost and quality - but it's so hard to tell what a camera is and isn't while playing with one in a warehouse....So I purchased the Sony Cybershot (DSC-W370) which came with a roughly $220 price tag. I took a bit of time this afternoon to charge the battery and headed out to see what I could get.


September 24th, 2010
Sony Cybershot DSC-W370
I expected to love it - I have a super patient subject that will patiently wait for me to try various angles and settings while he holds his position like a superstar...but, I have to confess - I'm not convinced....I like the Kodak's that give me quite a bit of control and when I don't want control there are numerous pre-sets that set aperture and shutter speed for me based on scene settings. I tend to shoot everything on "sport' when I'm shooting the dogs. The Sony Cybershot doesn't have a "sport" setting - and while I experimented with some of the built-in modes I found that the "easy" (Kodak equivalent of Auto) actually took the best photos - even when I was shooting stationary objects (like apples). The jumping photo (above) was taken on the auto setting. If you click on the image you can see the view in full resolution. Yes, Teller was in motion - but I would expect to see a clearer image

A few more:
Blurry Woo....Adorable, but blurry.
September 24th, 2010
Sony Cybershot DSC-W370

Stationary shots are much better than the movement shots.
September 24th, 2010
Sony Cybershot DSC-W370

Teller (l) and Murphy (r) really wish I'd put down the damn camera and let them swim.
September 24th, 2010
Sony Cybershot DSC-W370

It's been a bumper apple crop this year!
September 24th, 2010
Sony Cybershot DSC-W370

I'll be freezing another dozen pies worth of apple pie filling this weekend. Both of my freezers currently filled with dog food and apple pie filling. Random eh?
September 24th, 2010
Sony Cybershot DSC-W370

One more of Teeter-Woo on his rubber seesaw.
September 24th, 2010
Sony Cybershot DSC-W370
The Sony Cybershot is the only USB device I have that runs on a proprietary cable - something manufacturers NEVER mention on the outside of the box (annoying). The Sony Cybershot also uses a SONY Memory stick (came with a 2GB PRO DUO which is supposed to have the highest performance) - which is also proprietary so unlike my older cameras, I can't just pop the memory card into my laptop's SD reader.

When I was taking multiple shots in succession, I often found myself waiting for the camera to finish writing before I could take another shot. I think 4-5 seconds is too long to process an image when I'm trying to capture something specific. Sure, that tulip will wait to for my camera to process - but I'm not going to be able to talk that fawn into laying back down in the field of dandelions.

The Sony Cybershot DSC-W370 came with a camera case - which looked good - but isn't really setup to be practical. The lithium battery is charged with an external charger that doesn't fit into the camera case (unless you put it in with the camera and I was reluctant to have it bouncing around in the too big camera compartment with the camera/LCD). The other two compartments of the camera bag were too small for the USB or AV cables. So if like me you're planning to travel you'll need to stow all of the accessories elsewhere or upgrade your camera bag.

I do like the panoramic feature and played with it a bit it's on my list to work with tomorrow. I also plan to read the manual tonight - perhaps there's a setting or feature that I'm overlooking to improve some of these initial short-comings...as we say in the IT world - RTFM - and because this is a family-friendly blog I'll leave it at the manual!!! So my homework is to put some more time into experimenting with the camera.

I don't see a HUGE quality improvement over my old 6.1MP Kodak Z760. And if I'm not going to upgrade image quality (6.1 MP to14 MP) and at the same time lose camera features I think I'll just put some money in a jar every month for one of those fancy SLRs.
From my rubber teeter post - September 19th, 2010
Kodak EasyShare Z760



Thursday, September 23, 2010

Advanced Agility - Thursday September 23rd, 2010

Well gang, it's officially fall. The chill is most definitely in the air and we're back inside for classes again - chased inside by the darkness. Don't despair though, there's plenty of stuff to work on inside - here's the plan for tonight:

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Four Jumps - Backyard sequences Part Ten

Now that the Summer Sequencing series has wrapped up on Tuesday nights, I actually have a bit of time to toss jumps in "the van" and head over to the school to work Teller a bit before it's too dark to play outside. Here's a few more sequences in the "Four-Jump" Series - this brings us to Part Ten of the series.

A easy setup for tonight. All of these sequences should start in motion - no lead-outs today. Work Sequence #1 starting with your dog on your left side.


Start sequence #1 with your dog on your left.

The 270 turns from 2-3 and 4-5 are tough. Work on supporting the turns without babysitting those jumps.


Sequence #4: straight lines. Work to keep flow from 2-3 and 4-5







And if you are Teller, probably the best part of the afternoon was romping on the soccer fields after his whistler ball. Murphy was full of himself in the cooler autumn air. So much so that we're now soaking a torn pad. I'm not sure why - but Murphy seems especially prone to pad injuries this summer. Perhaps he's spent too much time in the pool and not enough time out and about training. I've made plans to take both the boys tracking this weekend, hopefully he'll be healed enough to do a bit of work by then.

Basic obedience for agility dogs....

One of the most frequently asked questions about agility (usually immediately following the words "my dog could NEVER do THAT!") is "How do I get started?" My answer generally is something to the effect of "a basic obedience class". Which is followed by: Why does my dog HAVE TO take obedience in order to play agility? They're two different things right?

Teller showing off some fancy heel-work earlier this summer.
Not too shabby for an agility dawg eh?
Photo Credit: Colby Images
Well, yes and no. First of all your dog doesn't HAVE to take an obedience class - that's not to say that some instructors won't require a basic class - or demonstration of some basic manners and behaviors - but it IS to say that if your dog doesn't have several key behaviors you're not going to have as much fun in agility class as you probably could. Odds are pretty good that if you're in a group class and we're spending much of your turn on the floor or field working on "puppy come" that you aren't going to get a lot of time on the agility equipment during class. Obedience doesn't mean "AKC Obedience" - you don't need a precise heel position - but your dog does have to sit when you ask them to...

All of the cool kids are obedient. If you spent some time at an agility trial (any venue), you'll see an awful lot of training going on outside the ring - probably as much so with the excellent level dogs as the beginner dogs. Lots of stay/wait work,  fast sits, downs, turns, hand touches, recalls, etc. Tune up and tune in. If you watch a bit longer you'll see that those MACH dogs (and nearly MACH dogs) as high drive, fast and flamboyant as they are in the agility ring are probably some of the most obedient dogs you'll ever meet outside of the rings. The quality of being obedient (if taught correctly) does not diminish your dog's intrinsic "Joie de Vivre" but it will set you up for success later.  

Zoomies Happen. Yeah, it happens - to all of us at one point or another our dogs lose focus. We've all been there, some days your dog is just going to be off. Even the most honest and reliable seasoned dogs have moments where they're just not able to come out and work on the task at hand - that's what class is for, we'll get through it. We as handlers and trainers need to adapt. Yes, I had planned to work A-Frame reps today, but I really need to figure out how to support that weave entry. 

In class, I can give you some tools and tips to work on outside of class as homework for the week, but we focus on the dog of the moment - not necessarily the sequence in front of us. I'm happy to spend my instruction time helping each team be successful, but I think dog and handler will be much happier if we're not spending half of intro class working recalls. 

So, what do I need to work on prior to an intro to agility class?

Relationship. It was Bobbie Anderson who put into words the concept of your relationship with your dog as part of her "Building Blocks for Performance". Your dog should want to be with you - with or without a leash. More than a recall (more on that in a moment), the relationship you have with your dog needs to be built on trust. I won't put you in a situation where you'll get hurt and you need to stay in the game with me while we work and train.

Teller in the weaves.
Photo credit: Bee Ryan
Come. The recall is so important - not only for agility but as a life saving skill. Your dog should come when you call him the first time you call him - every single time you call him. If I hear words like "I can't have my dog off-leash because it takes me hours to get him back" or "Is your fence sturdy? My dog jumps over fences to get away" - this tells me that there's a relationship issue here and the dog doesn't have a good recall. When your dog comes barreling out of that tunnel and you need him to turn - you need him to react to his name and make the turn towards you - not take the next three (random) obstacles he sees in front of him - or worse - out and over ring gating and off to Wyoming. 

Sit. More than a simple sit - can your dog sit in heel position (left side)? How about on the right side? The sit doesn't have to be square (or pretty), but can you reliably (with a single command) have your dog sit at your side. What about a Down? Can your dog down in any position relative to where you are? AKC table performance is now position-less. But to quote from a recent Excellent standard briefing "If your dog doesn't have a job on the table what exactly is he going to do up there?". More so, a  sit is the beginning of a Two-On/Two-Off (2o2o) contact behavior as well. Sit (or down) is the foundation of a startline behavior too.

Wait (and/or Stay). Be still. Just a sec, I'll be right with you. Sure, you may not need a startline stay - lots of people run with their dogs from the line - but it's a nice tool to have in your toolbox if you can leave your dog in front of the first jump and at least get around the winged jump standard or even if you just need to pause a minute to re-think a handling plan in class or run-throughs. 

Settle. Class is exciting, good things happen here. There are treats and toys and friends and other people and...well, it's difficult to hear instruction if you're constantly worrying about what your dog is looking at, what he's getting into, getting pulled of your chair, barked at, etc you aren't getting all that you could get out of class time. You'll learn a lot by watching - and listening to the instructions your classmates receive.

Walk on a leash. Another life-skill -  and life-saving skill. A dog that can walk with his person on a leash and minding his manners is a dog that can walk through a crowded trial venue, keeping his nose to himself and his feet on the floor on his way into the ring. The same is true in a class situation or a walk around the block..

Don't pee on that. There's a lot of temptation on an agility field for mischievous markers. Make sure that you know your dog's signals when he needs to relieve himself and be proactive about taking potty breaks. It's never a good thing to forfeit the rest of your time on the floor because your dog had an accident half-way through your turn.

Seems like pre-agility is a lot like the AKC Canine Good Citizen program and test isn't it? Do you need to take a class to teach all of these behaviors? Maybe. Maybe not. But you will need the discipline (yours) to put in the time on the homework. For some people they need the pressure of the class to keep them honest and to motivate their training. Some dogs need the environment of class to proof through some of the super training they're getting outside of class. Either way, one night of class work isn't going to get you where you need to go - so keep up the work outside of class too.

Keep up the good work. There's a lot of temptation to let the basics lapse over time - we start working the really fun stuff  (and it's really fun!!!) and we don't work so much of the basics. Perhaps not so much loose leash walking or heel work, we don't notice the change right away, but pretty soon dogs are dragging their handlers to the line, running a course beautifully and then their dogs drag them back to the crate (with or without choking, gaggling and gacking sounds).

Put in the time and you will be rewarded. Agility is a fun and addictive sport for both dog and handler, as I tell many of my intro classes: "Agility is intrinsically fun for our dogs and we'll work very hard to keep it that way".

Sunday, September 19, 2010

September Sun and Fun

Gorgeous late summer day today - the nights are getting increasingly chilly - but the sunny days - ahhh....perfect weather. The boys and I went out to teach a sequencing class, then hit the pool for an afternoon swim before their baths.

Teller (front) and Murphy brave the 60 degree pool water.

Murph loves his RuffDawg Flying fish.


Teller's Chuck-It Duck.


Teller's not so graceful water entry.

Teller (L) and Murphy (R)
Teller (one foot in the toy box) drains the pool one retrieve at a time.

Teller rocking out the spikey haired look. Quick, someone get Fabio some gel!

Nice head shot, too bad about the spikey head Woo.


Murphy's post swim ZOOMIES!!!!


Wheeeeee!!!!!
This old man can still MOVE!!! If I thought he was capable of gaiting (on leash) in a straight line I might consider throwing him in veterans next year...But when I put a leash on him and he's suddenly moving on at least three tracks moving perpendicular to me. Fair enough Murph, enjoy retirement.