Thursday, September 30, 2010

still obsessing about contacts

It's what occupies 99% of my thoughts right now, sad huh? Indy's pretty much perfect at home, unless I throw a toy, then she's jumping 100% of the time. I read somewhere...Daisy peel seminar notes, maybe? that using a toy for contacts can tend to put the dog into prey drive mode, and more likely to pounce off the contact. i would say that's what I'm experiencing. Still debating buying two hit it boards, and using both, to cover the bottom 20" of the contact. I can see what she's doing pretty well, if I'm running just ahead of her and putting all my focus on watching the contact, it all goes out the window when I'm trying to really run a sequence, I also noticed when watching video that I'm not really indy isn't either, I'm turning into her (just a little), to see her contacts, which ends up being a collection cue, which may be why she always gets her contacts when I'm focused on just that.....the hit it boards could fix that. Although I worry they won't be 100% plus if she hits the slatted part it won't register either. the ones made in Europe seem perfect, but are too pricey for me at the moment (around 500.).

I've been thinking of using Abby as a contact training guinea pug. We played around with contact hoops on the A frame, didn't work, but for some reason I'm curious about using them on the dog walk for her, it's worth a try just to see how effective they are. What's the worst that could happen?

For some reason whenever things "brake" in agility, the problem seems to always need to have lots of cash thrown at it to fix it. Weave poles.....must be the new 24" spacing, better buy some new ones. Teeter problems better buy one just like they use in trials. Contact troubles...maybe we need a dogwalk with a rubber surface, maybe fancy electronic stuff, some hoops...maybe a new training video?? Need to generalize specific skills, better travel to every training facility within 200 miles to rent ring time.

good news

Not great news, but pretty good! The mass on willy's leg was mct, but there were clean margins and no signs that it has spread at all. We'll take that!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Rabid foxes...what's next

Rabid foxes suspected in Pittsburgh-area attacks |

All within miles of our house and right in the middle of where I walk the dogs most days.

Monday, September 27, 2010

USDAA agility

Yesterday was the first USDAA trial I've been to in years. My very first trial ever, 6 years ago was usdaa, my first Q ever was in the games class Snooker. I do like this venue overall. A few more runs a day, some different challenges in the course design.

It's not for everyone though, jump heights are tough for a lot of dogs, it's not venue that you see a lot of non-traditional breeds. The small dog classes (at least around here) are tiny. At the masters level there were only 4, 12" dogs competing, just weird. Part of that is the cutoff is closer to the AKC 8" cutoff. Dogs must be under 12" to jump 12". I couldn't decide what height to enter Indy, she's done a bit at 12" but we've focused more on 8" since that's her AKC jump height. I didn't want to over face her, and cause her to loose confidence, so we entered 8" in the "performance" division. In the future we'll most like enter 12"

It is a different atmosphere, to a point that makes me a bit uncomfortable with a tiny dog. Warm up jumps were set up out in the open in crowded areas, we weren't using them, just too risky. things were also really lax about dogs being on lead. AKC has become kind of nuts about this, if you carry your 5 pound dog out of the ring and are still in the process of attaching their lead as you leave, you will lose your Q, or if the dogs natural momentum at the finish carries them out of the ring, even if they turn back right away you can lose your Q....that's excessive and just adds unnecessary stress. But I really hate seeing dogs, not attached to leads other than with their mouths tugging outside the ring, in a perfect world where everyone really knew their dogs and payed attention to their dogs, it wouldn't be an issue, but that's never the case.

We'll definitely try more usdaa in the future though, I think it will be a nice venue for Indy once she grows up a bit.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I'm just going to say it

I sometimes really dislike running young dogs, there I said it. I know people who hate training foundation stuff. I love all the training. It's just that first 6 months to a year or so that they're trialing, and I feel like every time I turn around I'm adding something to the list to re-train. I don't rush into competition either, but it just feels like there are some things that no mater what I do, fall apart in competition. The teeter for example. I get my dogs to as many different building as possible, on different equipment, but nothing prepares them for the differences they see from week to week. This weeks teeter issues actually started last week. If you watch Indy's teeter form the last video I posted, you see she's a little tentative on the teeter, jumps off back a little from the end of the plank (perfectly legal), but it bounces up and lifts her back end just slightly. she's a sensitive girl and that got her thinking, and too much thinking seems to always end in trouble! I should have insisted she come all the way to the end and wait.

Kittie was the one exception, she *was* put in the ring early, I didn't know any better and my instructor at the time said I was ready, so off we went. She had a lot of holes in her training, and still had those holes years later, but Kittie always was who she was. Not too many surprises running her.

I know people who love running baby is fun starting a new dog off, trying to give them a good experience, but there's a point several months into trialing where I'm just exhausted by the novelty of just what are they going to do today?!? I'll laugh in a few days about this weekend, but for now I just shake my head.

Friday, September 24, 2010


Willy made it through everything just fine yesterday, he's sporting a fancy new lampshade, err... I mean e collar too. He doesn't seem to need it, hasn't even looked at his incision. Crossing fingers that his lump was nothing more than just a lump!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

More thoughts on running contacts

I've been saying that "it's a matter of time before indy starts to get called for her dogwalk" The behavior certainly has gone through some changes over the past few months and while i have ideas, I'm not totally certain what to do.

She's always been fairly quick, but recently she's become all about getting from point A to point B as fast as possible....which is fantastic, but she's looking for every shortcut she can find to accomplish this, skipping the last weave pole and extending straight off the dogwalk. We've been trying to work through this and I do feel she's getting a grasp that she needs to hit the bottom of the plank, but (and here's what concerns me about the behavior holding up) she takes a lot of short collected strides to hit the contact, rather than running fully extended and slightly adjusting her stride as she's coming down to hit it. I worry since she's almost never at full seed when she makes an effort to hit it, that the behavior will fall apart in competition.....because she doesn't understand how to accomplish both hit the contact and run at full speed. I also have a hard time getting her as excited at home as she is in classes and trials.

I'm thinking of purchasing a "hit it board", it beeps when the dog hits the contact. but it's so small that I worry the criteria will be too strict to hold up long term.

Not many dog as tiny as Indy manage to miss their contacts, even without training of any kind...leave it to my dogs to catch some air any way they can!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Indy Sept 2010

Once we get this whole, can't calm down/focus enough to get through the weaves on the first try phase over with we'll be in business.

Indy got her last leg for her Open Jumpers title and her first EX A standard leg (not on video) this past weekend.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

that C word

I found a bump on Willy's front leg, so we went to the vet to have it checked out yesterday and the vet feels it's in her words "highly, highly suspicious of mct" so he's scheduled to have it removed next week. Last night I found two more bumps on him, on his rear leg.

Obviously i'm worried and's so weird when you think of the possibility of something like this in a dog who seems so healthy, so completely "normal". I refuse to obsess over this, I refuse to allow it to alter the way I think of Willy, and the way I interact with him. I've always said I would never put a dog through chemo. Only time will tell about that, but if this does turn out to be cancer, I refuse to put him through any pain just to stretch his life a few years. I want my dogs with me as long as possible, but most importantly I want them to have a good life. Willy gets very stressed out at the vets. He's one of those dogs who cries and carries on over everything. He's always been like this, even his breeder warned me that he was a "crier and screamer" at 8 weeks.

Willy's always been different that the girls, he loves to just hang out in the yard and forage for berries, dirt and anything else that could be considered food. He's a big worrier around big dogs, but he loves his girls. He's a total "fair weather" dog, he doesn't like to go for walks when it's wet, too hot or too cold, but is just thrilled about being out when it's nice out. He's my little marshmallow dog.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

people people everywhere

We've been trying to take advantage of the nice weather and hike with the dogs in the early evenings while we still have the light to get out after work. Normally I try to squeeze in a hike during the afternoon or early morning, but it's nice to have Bill come along. Usually once we get off the main trails we're pretty much by ourselves, not yesterday. Runners, families mountain bikers at every turn, all this was okay. The dogs do need to see all these things regularly. But it seems on nice days there's always one who makes me lose faith in the human race. We were on a main trail, all our dogs were on leash at this point, just too much going on and we saw a large GSD mix off leash. The man looked like he was about to put the dog on lead when he saw us approaching, but as we came up it looked like he was just holding the dog by collar....while it stared at our dogs....that completely inappropriate, aggressive stare. I see people do this all the time, hold dogs by collar, as a means to control, while allow the dog to lock eyes on what/whoever....much the way people do in agility to rev a dog up! and that's just what it does with these dogs. We had to pass them, luckily it was a fairly wide trail, but by the time we had to pass him the dog was in a total frenzy, and i really worried it was going to get away from the owner.

Not the hike we were hoping for, this is why I sometimes can't wait for the bitter cold of Winter.

Monday, September 13, 2010

You can shape anything

The whole thing started on Labor day morning. It was the 3rd day of a trial weekend. Abby was only entered on Sat. and Monday. she does better with a "mental health day" in between....I Iove three day trials for this reason. I got the dogs up, and Abby looked horrible, she could barely open her eye. how a dog can scratch their eye while in a crate over night, I'll never understand. We had left over ointment from a previous eye injury so I started her on that, and she looked a lot better by the time I got home. Still occasional squinting, but looking on the way to recovery! Went to the vets to be sure, and he agreed she was doing good and to keep up with the ointment.

In the days that followed her eye seemed fine 99% of the time, but at some point every single day she would follow me around, just sort of winking at me. which of course I responded to in the only way anyone with a heart responds to a squinting pug. I carried her around, babied her, kissed her head and gave her cookies. When she kept doing this almost a full week later I took her back to the vet, who confirmed her eye was completely healed!! I got to wondering, is she winking and squinting, for attention? Could she have figured out that squinting at me, got her attention and cookies?? You bet she did. It took a solid day of ignoring her when she winked and praising her when she looked at me both eyes to get her to stop. now, I just need to get it on cue!