Monday, February 28, 2011

Book Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games is the first novel in a trilogy (by Suzanne Collins) aimed at young adult readers. Like so many titles of this genre - the series crosses over to adult readers as well  and was recommended to me by several friends.

The Audible Publisher's Summary:
Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don't live to see the morning? 

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by 12 outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. 

16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before -and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

I struggled with the subject matter for most of the book - for one, the concept of "The Reaping" is reminiscent of Shirley Jackson's short story "The Lottery" - like "The Lottery" I had some trouble envisioning a society that so blindly follows the rules of the capital, organizing a random draw to choose which of their children to send to the games - to represent "the district" but also to almost certain death - for the purposes of entertainment. This is not the past - this is the future of the United States...District isolation and the bulk of humanity serving as sheep - as pawns in this "Brave New World". Yes, it's a work of fiction, yes the subject matter is aimed at the teen audience - but still....the whole concept of "willing suspension of disbelief" just isn't there.

Along with the young adult content - Katness (the female district 12 representative) is so unbelievably clueless while readers are assured that she's this brilliant survivor type. It was intriguing to me that some of the other Hunger Games competitors were actually more compelling than our young protagonist.

The Hunger Games was narrated by Carolyn McCormick - who in large part saved the book for me. Clear inflection and a fantastic narration voice - this audiobook was very well performed and produced. Yes, I expect this kind of quality from a publisher like Scholastic Audio - but I'm always pleased with productions live up to my expectations.

In all, I'm reserving judgement on the Hunger Game Series. I've downloaded and plan to start Book Two (Catching Fire) tomorrow. There is a lot of potential in the series and I do feel like I need to stick with the series - if only because of the stellar recommendations of the series. It's not a heavy read - even with the subject matter it's easy to work through the eleven or so hours of content (I finished the audiobook in four days - and approximately 400 miles).

The Hunger Games was written by Suzanne Collins; narrated by Carolyn McCormick; published by  Scholastic Audio. The Hunger Games (unabridged) has a running time of 11 hours 10 minutes and an Audible release date of October 1, 2008.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Middlesex County Kennel Club - February 27-28, 2011

This trial recap should really start out with the phrase "you know you're addicted to agility when...." - Nor'Easter moving up the coast Friday morning, boarding dog here until Friday AM (preventing late-night escape to trial Thursday night or VERY early Friday AM). Forecasts ranging from 10-12" of snow up here (and  4-6" and ice/rain down there). So what do we do? We drop the boarding dog off at 8:15 - a quick bedding change in the boys' crates, toss our over-night bag in the car, top off the tank and we're off by 9am. Five and a half hours later (normally a 2:45/170 mile drive)  we arrive at our destination. The roads weren't awful - lots of snow, some places better maintained than others - all interstate - but 40-45mph the whole way. We took our time and advantage of daylight. Only once did I really start to think I was out of my mind....

This is from NH where the roads got better.
(note the heavy snow load on the pine trees) 
From a point of comparison, I-89  was awful,
VT's DOT just doesn't keep the roads up like
they used to (or ought to). Sad fact for a state 
so dependent on winter tourism.
Saturday weather was gorgeous - sunny - mid-thirties, even had to roll down the windows to keep the boys cool in the van. This morning the "dusting to three inches" ended up being "seven inches" and a pretty lousy drive to the show this morning with a very snow-covered I-93 - significantly more treacherous than the Friday drive. Yeah, we're all nuts.

Our judge this weekend was Lavonda Herring...I jokingly say that I'm sort of stalking her with our entries - but she is one judge that I always look for - if she is judging within 400 miles of us I'm going to send in an entry for that weekend - regardless of venue. Her courses are always fun and challenging - certainly not 'easy' courses - but they're fair, pretty unique and Teller always runs well on them - so yeah, we're Lavonda stalkers.

Saturday Teller and I threw down a double Q and a bunch of points. That's QQ number #4 (for anyone counting) and the 4th QQ in our last 5 days of trialing. We're feeling some consistency and I can't even begin to communicate how awesome that feels right now.

Today well - we had a bobble in standard when Teller came around a jump, committed to the chute 20' away and just blew by the table - run-out (refusal). It's OK - I knew our hot streak had to end sooner or later - really - it's all good. It doesn't stop me from second guessing or obsessing about it for a day or two (the "what-if" replays) - but Woo still rocked and enjoyed a heaping supply of nitrate free hot-dogs for a job well done.

Woo the party-animal Saturday night...
Without a QQ on the line I tried to push it a bit with Teller in JWW - big course, long on yardage, lots of opportunity to really let him go and for me to run him aggressively. He got around the course, had a 9 second JWW run - but he really didn't seem to have a lot "in the tank" to go. I think there's a few factors - long days, because I worked out of my car this weekend I got him into the building and ringside pretty early for both runs today - but I think this is also a good sign of just not keeping up with Teller's conditioning. We haven't been getting out to the school more than once or twice a week lately for a number of reasons (lots of snow on the ground, darkness, cold and boarding dogs) and I just don't think Teller is as fit as has been in previous months. It's lighter later now and with a little luck we'll have some warmer weather coming at us soon.

Weaves this weekend were pretty sluggish - starting Saturday AM with some head shaking (I cleaned his ears Friday AM - but I'm not sure why he shook his head in the Saturday STD run - his ears seemed to be bothering him, but he didn't do it again and upon investigation I didn't see anything obvious wrong with his ears). My thought on weaves at the moment is to leave well enough alone and see what we get next weekend in terms of speed. He knows his job, he's getting his entries independently and he's staying in the weaves when he gets in there. With Teller less is more and I don't need to fix something that isn't broken.

Our runs from the weekend:

Friday, February 25, 2011

Teaching the 2x2 weave method....

I've always taught weaves using a shaping/clicker method. Shape the entry, shape the macaroni, shape a second macaroni, etc - tossing the cookie behind the dog to cause forward motion back to the weaves - setting up another success. Then working around the clock and up to six poles, then tossing cookies ahead. I generally don't keep dogs at six poles for very long - after all, the only time dogs see six weaves is in novice - and I don't train (my dogs or my students) for novice. The car goes where your eyes go.

For this session of intermediate agility I decided to try something different - using my five intermediate students as guinea pigs. I've heard raves from the 2x2 camp, I'd seen a couple of 2x2 dogs that had some great success with finding entries - and was amazed that dogs were weaving six poles in a matter of weeks (or days). This group had started weaves via my original method - but without weaves at home the dogs just weren't putting it together and I saw dogs and handlers getting a little frustrated. I proposed trying something new - and asked my "kidz" to be guinea pigs.

The 2x2 method is Susan Garrett's ( method - there's a popular DVD available from Clean Run (and others) that outlines Susan's method. I've also been impressed at Susan's generosity on forums - specifically the Clean Run Yahoo list - to answer questions on her method - even if to tell people that they're spending too much time on the first couple of steps. I've watched Susan's DVD a few times - but I'd never had the impetus to try teaching the method. Murph easily learned via my shaping method - as did Teller - who worked up to a full set of six in a span of about 2 weeks (and a set of 12 the week after). My advantage was that both of my dogs are VERY clicker savvy - they're operant, thinking dogs.

In the April 2009 issue of Clean Run (this issue is available in print as well as via digital back copy here), Mary Ellen Barry published her version of the 2x2 method in an article entitled: A New Twist on Training with 2 x 2 Weaves. It was Mary Ellen's version that I worked through with the intermediate class.

My results using MEB's 2x2 method was as follows:
It seemed like we spent a lot of time at step one - a couple of weeks in short sessions of class time. Some of the kinks we ran into was both speed of reinforcement and placement (throwing) of reinforcement. Cheese would bounce on the floor or handlers had a hard time getting the reinforcement out of their hands in time - dogs got "stuck" looking back for the cookie. For this step we had to work on getting reinforcement SOONER - even going so far as asking handlers to anticipate! We also had a couple of dogs (and I won't name names {GIGGLE}) who were SURE that they were absolutely right and really had to be somewhat restrained so that they didn't offer incorrect behaviors (this is part of the method too). For obvious reasons it's a lot easier to grab a golden's collar than a 10" terrier - but we worked through that too.

At the 4 week mark all five dogs had a break-through. All five dogs are weaving six poles now - making entries with some speed, collecting, putting their heads down and accelerating out of the weaves - last night even making weave entries out of a curved tunnel. The handlers are even able to (successfully) rear-cross the weaves - accidently at first - now reliably - something I haven't seen with beginner weavers using my original shaping method.

The downfall of course is that you need to have sets of 2x2's available. My 24" weaves from affordable agility came in 2x2's (for shipping and transport) - this wasn't a requirement when I purchased them - but it's come in handy for this experiment....I'm convinced enough to try this method with my next class - and I suspect I'll even suggest a few folks go back and re-train 2x2s to improve entry accuracy. Then there's the proof in the pudding - my next puppy - if there's a next puppy - will (at 15 months and not before) learn his (yes HE) weaves via the 2x2 method.

Next up for the intermediate class is to get to a set of 12 poles - one 2x2 at a time :-)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Advanced Agility - February 24th, 2011

Here's the plan for tomorrow night:

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tuesday Training - February 22nd, 2011

Super short session (< 5 minutes) for T-Woo tonight -  just a few contact reps.

In their own words: Abby and Tsunami

This is part two of our guest blogger series. Today we hear from Abby (and her pug Tsunami) in an essay Abby entitles "Fear Itself":

When I first conceived of the idea of entering The Trial (some time around August), I thought we were almost ready, or surely would be by January. As the time drew near, I felt less and less ready. What is a trial for, friends counseled me, but to see what you’ve got? Thinking about it, I was nervous…I was nervous about getting nervous. That is, I was afraid that I might be SO nervous that I wouldn’t enjoy the trial at all, and perhaps even worse - I might actually feel physically sick.

Erica, our teacher, had asked us about our goals, made us look at them realistically. So I wasn’t expecting much, or maybe I was, just hoping to keep her with me. When we’re not connected, and we had gone through quite a bout with that since August, she tends to wander off sniffing and “cleaning”(looking for and inhaling treats, paper, fluff, hair, small bits of ?, etc. on the floor during which time she appears to be totally deaf). I wasn’t looking forward to a public display of this behavior. I was also hoping to remember the courses - if I get rattled, my brain (which resembles a storm drain more than a sieve) vanishes. I also wasn’t very confident in my ability to figure out the best way to run the courses. Then there was the handling question – Would I be able to give Tsunami clear signals with my body, especially my often flailing arms and hands? (Would I even know what I was doing with my body?) To counteract all this doubt, I actually had read and was practicing the ideas mapped out in Jane Savoie’s book, That Winning Feeling! (positive suggestion and visualization).

When the day came I found was also really excited, after all, wasn’t this what we’d been heading for? And I had friends from class there - Haley with Willow, her young Goldendoodle, and Julie with Duncan, a most enthusiastic, tail-wagging black lab; we’d all started classes together a few months shy of two years ago. I wasn’t nervous until about 15 minutes before our first class was to start, but as soon as we went for the briefing and then began walking the course, I started to relax; now I had something to focus on – learn the course, figure it out, set it in my mind and my body.

When we began to run, I forgot about everything and it was just Tsunami and me feeling the joy of a running together and working at doing our very best. And we did a pretty good job, too; we were connected -a lot of the time - we even had a couple of clean runs, we had a great time, and there was no time to even think about being nervous.

So next time we go to a trial, I’m sure I’ll have a few butterflies, but all I have to do is look down at that spunky little dog with the big heart and remind myself how much fun it is just simply running next to her.

Erica often tells me I need to trust her – she’s so right! I’m awfully impressed with our smart little dog with the big heart.

Oh and by the way - Abby's "a couple of clean runs" was actually 4 Q's - all with first placements....just sayin'.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Book Review: What the Night Knows by Dean Koontz

It feels like it took me a month to get through this 'little' twelve hour audiobook - well it did.- which should not be interpreted as a reflection against the story, but as lack of concentration on my part - I found it hard to devote time to the audiobook and spent the majority of my commute time jamming along to eighties on eight.

Nevertheless, I've come to rely on Dean Koontz for an enjoyable read in which I know how the story ends in the first third of the book and I spend the last two thirds waiting to hear how the author gets to that resolution - oh and there's usually a golden retriever in there somewhere {GRIN}. Koontz's characters are always well developed and likable. I disagree with some reviewers that What the Night Knows was a "psychological thriller" - the novel was highly entertaining, but ultimately predictable in that "all is right with the world" kind of way. In other words, if you like Koontz - you'll like "What the Night Knows". If Koontz's style isn't your thing I can predict that you wouldn't enjoy this book - in print or audio format.

Steven Weber's narration was very well done - I appreciate a narrator who slides to the background as the story unfolds. Mr Weber's vocals were plausible and pleasant - even his "eight year old girl voice".

From the Audible Publisher's description:
In the late summer of a long-ago year, a killer arrived in a small city. His name was Alton Turner Blackwood, and in the space of a few months he brutally murdered four families. His savage spree ended only when he himself was killed by the last survivor of the last family, a 14-year-old boy. Half a continent away and two decades later, someone is murdering families again, re-creating in detail Blackwood’s crimes. Homicide detective John Calvino is certain that his own family — his wife and three children — will be targets in the fourth crime, just as his parents and sisters were victims on that distant night when he was 14 and killed their slayer. As a detective, John is a man of reason who deals in cold facts. But an extraordinary experience convinces him that sometimes death is not a one-way journey, that sometimes the dead return. Here is a ghost story like no other you have read. In the Calvinos, Dean Koontz brings to life a family that might be your own, in a war for their survival against an adversary more malevolent than any he has yet created, with their own home the battleground. Of all his acclaimed novels, none exceeds What the Night Knows in power, in chilling suspense, and in sheer mesmerizing storytelling.

What the Night Knows by Dean Koontz was published by Brilliance Audio, narrated by Steven Weber and runs 12 hours 28 minutes. Audible Release date December 28th, 2010.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

EESSC AKC Agility Trial - Teller's 'perfect' weekend

The boys and I spent the weekend in Amherst, NH at the Eastern English Springer Spaniel Club's winter agility trial - it was a phenomenal weekend for Team Teller - Two double Q's. Our first (of hopefully many) 'perfect' weekends!

Weekend results: Two double Q's - Three Placements
I was oncall last week and while Friday temperatures were in the upper 40's, temperatures were forecasted to plummet overnight - which meant lots of melting snow and frozen puddles at 4am. So I decided to head down to NH on Friday night - sometimes that's just easier than getting up at 4am and driving for three hours anyhow. As it was, the 30mph winds made for a long "two-hands on the wheel" drive the whole way. My van is so much lighter than my Saturn Outlook was - and I feel the wind so much more that other vehicles I've owned over the years.

So we arrive Friday night, I check into the motel - one I've stayed at MANY MANY MANY times (lets' just say that the very nice woman at the front desk knows my license plate {on the van I got in August} from memory) - and I do the bed bug sweep - I always check, then Teller checks - I find not bed bugs but ants in the bathroom. Back down to the office and we're put into a different room. All's well until Saturday night when the folks in the non-smoking room next door decide to chain smoke  - filling MY room with second hand smoke. So a THIRD motel room for the Magica Gang - but having a night comp'ed significantly improved my impression of the whole affair.

Now for the trial details - Teller nailing - and I do mean NAILING - his contacts this weekend. A little slow getting into the 2-on/2-off position (2o2o) and I held him there a little longer than I might ultimately hold them - but a real win - and the first time since I started retraining (September) for 2o2o he's held his contacts in a trial situation.

Teller was responsive and really quite happy to be back trialing after so much time off - weekends like this will be hard to come-by - but I'll cherish every one I can get :-)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Record Keeping

Sooner or later the statistics of agility are going to become too much to keep filed away in your brain...Here are some thoughts and suggestions on keeping track of legs, titles, points and judges.

In AKC land, titles (NA, NAJ, OA, OAJ, etc) are earned by obtaining three qualifying scores from two different judges. It's thus important to know under whom you've qualified for each leg..The AKC site (specifically the "Points and Awards" tool) keeps track of legs and number of different judges - but doesn't tell you WHO those judges were - or what you thought of those judges and their courses - I only have two judges that I won't enter under (anymore) - but I do like going back through and looking at data (SCT, YPS and course maps) from previous trials.

Individual results are available for qualifying scores on the AKC event page (several weeks after the trial is over), but no information is retained for non-qualifying scores - which makes calculations for entire trial weekends difficult.

Some trial secretaries publish results on their website - typically at the end of the trial day - and usually in PDF format. I  like to go through the weekly score posts and see how folks did over the weekend - yes, a little bit of agility stalking is good for the soul.

Once you get into the excellent B classes you'll start earning MACH (or PACH points**) for every full second under course time on qualifying runs. It starts out pretty easy then it becomes relatively hard to keep a running point tally in your head. Let's (hypothetically speaking) consider the possibility that you are trialing more than one dog or one dog in more than one venue - it quickly becomes an even harder task to keep track of legs, judges and points.

So how can we make record keeping easier? I confess - until I finished Teller's MXJ I really didn't keep a good tally of points or legs. I can keep a pretty good running tally in my head - and actual numbers weren't all that important at that point...However, as time went on - it was clear that even my memory was going to fail me on minute things like points.

Record Keeping Books
Lots of variation on this theme - some folks use a plain old composition notebook - one for each dog or venue - recording dates, results, venue and judges. Noting hotel, restaurant information, manually calculating yards per second and MACH points. There are also pre-made dedicated agility record books - I've looked at the version from clean run and it looks very comprehensive - space for all of the information I'd want to keep track of....BUT You've got to remember to bring the book with you to trials - and you must remember to keep it up to date - AND if you lose the book (without a backup) you've lost all of your data.

This isn't my method of choice, but if you are disciplined enough to come home from a trial, power up your laptop and enter data into a spreadsheet - this is as good as any other record keeping method IF the file is backed up. Hours of diligent data entry will be meaningless if it's lost on a dead hard drive.

There's an App for that.
If you have an ipad, iphone or ipod touch - there are some apps for that! I've been using iLog from the folks at AgilityVision. I think there's some advantage to this - for one - I almost always have my iPhone with me at trials. I can tale a picture of the course map, add it to the class record, it does all the math for me (YPS, MACH points, QQ's, etc). I can enter a complete record in under a minute. iPhone and iPad apps are backed up via iTunes. I started record keeping back in October (roughly 15 months of data to enter) and honestly I only went back to enter historical Ex B Q's and points - I did not reconstruct either dog's entire career through Excellent. I had some trouble getting the numbers to match (AKC vs iLog) - I ended up having to tweak my iLog data to match what AKC listed for points. I doubt that would have happened had I entered data in as legs and points were earned.

Keep your records up to date  - know where you stand in your agility path and enjoy the ride!

**I asked an AKC field rep about PACH points - The PACH (Preferred Agility Championship) becomes an official title on January 1st, 2013 - HOWEVER, points are already being recorded for every preferred Excellent B Q - so NOW counts!!!.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Advanced Agility - February 17th, 2011

Here's the plan for tomorrow night - emphasis on SPEED!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tuesday Training - February 15th, 2011

Here's what Woo'ster worked tonight - just a short contact/weave session. Five minutes of retrieving, five minutes of agility and back home!

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Breakfast Club...

I love that these little finches (and their entire finch family) stop by for breakfast every morning.....

And one more birding shot.....

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sunday Sequencing - February 13th, 2011

Here are the plans for tomorrow...BLUE and RED:

If we have time we'll go for some GREEN - and finish on a bit easier note:

Saturday Training at the Barn - February 12th, 2011

Back down to the barn this morning to play with the NOMAD crew. Nice turn-out again this week. Worked some contacts and some short sequences and finished with a USDAA steeplechase course.! Woo rocked again this week! Really love how he's working lately - am I saying that too much? I REALLY like how he's working this year!

We had just enough time to run it twice - the first time I rear-crossed the #4 weaves (which worked well actually). For the second run I lead out past #2 and pivoted to #3....The rear cross actually worked better I think - he hit the #4 weaves with much more speed the first time.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

In their own words: Haley and Willow

Note: This is a guest blogger post from one of my students (Haley) about their VERY FIRST agility trial. Before the big day I asked the three of them if they'd like to write a blog post about their experiences and their perspectives. This will be a three part series - one from each of my "kidz"- so without further adieu here's the first installment: Haley and Willow (worth noting - Miss Haley just turned thirteen - I think we might have a future novelist on our hands!)

"Do you know the butterfly feelings in the pit of your stomach? Most people say its from being nervous, some say its from pressure, but I digress. On the fateful January morning my “butterflies” were not from pressure, or nervousness, but from excitement. It was finally happening, we were finally going. I have to admit I had very high hopes for Willow and I. I wanted to get up there and wow the judges. Which was quite the opposite of what happened.

Friday, Mom pulled me out of math class for the drive down. Suitcases, bags, and a small cooler littered the backseat. Dog in tow we left. After a few stops and a couple hours on the road we arrived at the Red Roof Motel. That evening we met up with Erica, and Abby. Let me back up Erica is my trainer with two sweet golden retrievers and Abby is a fellow trainer with the cutest pug in the world, Tsunami. We have one other person in our class, Julie who was going to come down on Saturday with her big lovable black lab Duncan. 

We said goodnight and retired to our rooms. Excitement bubbled up in me again.

To be truthful that night was one of the worst night of my life. The walls were very thin so Willow was getting up ever so often to bark at the late night party people, and when she was settled she was a complete bed hog! Never the less we got up in the morning and continued our pursuit of a perfect trial.

Entering the building were the trial was taking place was an amazing feat itself, it was packed like bees in a hive. Navigation was nearly impossible. Our first step was to measure. This was Willow's first trial so we need a judges measurement to preform. Wilow hated the feel of something hitting her back so I thought this part would be an astronomical disaster, but it was the exact opposite. The judge was nice and Willow was calm, a first!

We had entered three sections, Novice Fast, Novice Standard, and Novice Jumpers. We had planned to do fast just as a warm up and weren't that worried about it. Fast was a pretty simple course, but it had it's kinks. 

We could do this no big deal. Boy was I wrong. First thing was to get Willow focused on me. She was very intent on the buffalo bits until it was almost our turn. Then when I tried to get her attention nothing. Uh oh. We started out got one, two jumps, then......... dang it lost her. She ran up the A-Frame, one wrong course, jumped on the judge, automatic fail. The whistle blew and we were off. One down three to go, our next step was standard.

Standard was around the same as fast, jumping on the judge, wrong courses, and of course losing focus. I think that was our major problem was me losing her focus.

Jumpers course was similar, but better. We started out good and then I lost her again, but the great part was I got her back and finished with a flash!

In the end it was a successful I found out what makes her tick, had a good time, and most of all experience what it was to compete in a official trial for the first time and in the end it didn't really matter what the scores were, but that it was the experience and the excitement of it all that really stuck with me. I guess butterflies aren't always what they seem."

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Advanced Agility - February 10th, 2011

FAST tomorrow night - here's the plan:

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Tuesday Training - February 8th, 2011

Crappy weather and crappy roads again tonight. More snow and more grease on the roads...yuck, yuck, yuck, yuck...Anyhow, I didn't want to work Teller much tonight - a bit of contact reps, some weaves and a bit of indoor retrieving and then home again before rush hour. Mission more or less accomplished...Here's what we did:

I had one of those moments tonight when I really wished I didn't train alone so much of the time. It was the Hunter Green path above (and right) - a really straight forward serpentine to what I thought was a relatively straightforward (easy) weave entry....I started with the blue handler path - short lead-out, serp'ed the two jumps and rear-crossed the weaves. 

Teller was consistently hitting pole #2. I then tried the purple line - and now he's nailing his entry. Back to blue path and the same thing. Unless I brought him way out (several extra yards) following the third jump my rear-cross was sending him in at pole #2. I did a couple of reps where I pulled him to me before rear crossing and then just put it away - with the mental note to set the same thing up again soon - and also setup a tripod and video camera to see what the heck I was doing - I KNOW it was something weird I was doing - maybe rushing the rear? Too close to the poles? 

To be continued..... 

Monday, February 07, 2011

Weekend Birding...

Just a few shots of the birds through the window this weekend:

February 5th, 2011 - Kodak z981

February 5th, 2011 - Kodak z981

February 5th, 2011 - Kodak z981

February 6th, 2011 - Kodak z981
After the storm.

February 6th, 2011 - Kodak z981

February 6th, 2011 - Kodak z981

Sunday, February 06, 2011

More Snow....

February 6th, 2011 
It feels as though we've been getting measurable snow every single day for the last few weeks....the piles in my driveway are so high that, well, I'm not sure that the snow blower can get the snow up much higher...I might have to give up one of the lanes in my driveway just to have someplace to put more snow. The smiling weathermen are forecasting more snow tomorrow, more snow on Tuesday, more snow on Thursday and a potential BIG storm next weekend. JOY!

Our backyard is a mess - our deck is well - pretty impossible to navigate. Lots of snow, mountains, mounds, drifts - plus the snow off the roof (and I need to get out there and do the roof again tomorrow. The boys are good sports but between the storm on Wednesday, the snow on Friday and the snow last night through this morning we've essentially lost the use of our yard there's so much snow. I'm going to have to hire a Newfoundland (or a Leonberger) to come out and break trails out there pretty soon.

But that's enough whining! We're so fortunate to have the school nearby - and enough of a plowed are to get the dogs out to run a bit  - otherwise we'd go completely stir crazy! It was actually 30 degrees here today - almost tropical!

Today was a bit of contacts for Teller out at waggles - but a light work for him after such a great barn session yesterday, then a van nap for both boys while I taught sequencing this afternoon - then to the school for an off-leash maniac run.

February 6th, 2011 - 23.5" Teller stands next to the snowbank

Some pictures of the outing:

February 6th, 2011: Good stay boys!

February 6th, 2011: COME! I love the expression on Teller's face!
He looks vicious!

February 6th, 2011: Thanks for the help boys, but you're a little too close.

February 6th, 2011: Tandom Retrieve

February 6th, 2011: Turbo Woo

February 6th, 2011: Murph 

February 6th, 2011: Posing

February 6th, 2011: This one cracks me up. Here's Teller in a sit-stay...

February 6th, 2011: Now here's Murphy sitting....that is AFTER
he crept all the way forward from where I left  him next to Teller.
Note the smug look on Teller's face: I STAYED.

February 6th, 2011: OK Woo - Come!

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Sunday Sequencing - February 6th, 2011

Here's the plan for tomorrow - GREEN è RED è BLUE:

Saturday training at the barn

The sun before the storm today (another 6-8" of snow expected for tonight - with more coming in on Monday/Tuesday)...but for this morning it was 30 degrees, sunny and a perfect winter agility day at the barn. There were three sections that we cycled through in pairs and then we setup a USDAA jumpers course.

Here's what Woo and I worked today:

And the jumpers course....Woo was double-clean!

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Thursday Training...

Just a quick trip back and forth to Williston before class tonight...a-frame, teeter and weaves tonight.

Intermediate Agility - February 3rd, 2011

Here's the plan for the Intermediate Class tonight:

Advanced Agility - February 3rd, 2011

Here's the plan for the advanced class tonight: