Saturday, February 28, 2009

baby sheep

I was the first to arrive at my agility class today. My teacher's husband was there helping set up the equipment. He said, "You should get these dogs out with our sheep and see what they do, they might surprise you." They both talked about how herding dogs sometimes really thrive when allowed to do what they were bred to do.

Then, they told me their barn was full of baby sheep. 15 baby sheep, only a couple weeks old.

I just had to go see them after class. I walked in the barn by myself, and immediately all the sheep started "baaing". Some of the sheep were behind wire, but some were just roaming about. I hoped they were friendly sheep.

Luckily, my teacher's husband walked in, and saw that the sheep had gotten loose. I helped hold up some boards and wire while he "herded" them back where they belonged. There were not only baby sheep, but some young jersey cows as well.

One sheep was "dumb", and not drinking from her mom, so she is being bottle fed. He picked her up, and I got to pet her.

All of the sheep were very friendly. One even gnawed on my jeans. OK, maybe that wasn't friendly. But, I loved ever minute of it all. Walking on the thick hay, the incessant baaing, the wooliness, the way they nosed right up for a cuddle.

Luckily, I had a camera in my car, and was able to snap a few shots:

notice baby in back drinking from her mama
I named this sheep "Oreo"

I'm not sure what the dogs would do if given the opportunity to be with some sheep, but I'd be willing to try it.

Friday, February 27, 2009

no internet

I got home from picking up my new car last night, and our Internet was down. For over five hours! None of our three computers would work.

We called our Internet provider and found out there was a wide spread outage in our area, but there were technicians "working on it".

It was horrible. I felt so out of touch. What if people were posting things on their blogs, and I was missing out? What if people had left me comments or emails and I was unable to read or answer them? I couldn't check the live doppler or the hourly forecast in anticipation of our morning walk! Jeff was unable to check on any leads he might have for work the next day.

Boy, it is hard to believe that not too many years ago we lived completely normal lives, without the internet. What the heck did we do with ourselves? I don't remember.

I remember hating dial up, and the first day we got broadband. That was pure delight. I think I jumped up and down.

The other day, one of my students asked me a question, something I didn't know the answer to. I said, "Let me google it." Within a minute, I had the answer. I thought, "How awesome is that?" When I first started teaching, I couldn't have done that. We didn't have the internet back then. At least, not in our classrooms. I had to put in a floppy disk to run a spell check on microsoft word!

I'm sure the dogs would be happier if I spent less time on the internet, but hey most of their treats and toys get ordered online. I don't see them complaining when I open up the cardboard box printed with a dot com on the side, and its full of goodies for them!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

secret or a rematch?

Is Oreo telling Misty a secret or challenging her to a rematch from yesterday?

Oreo tries to go in for the kill

Misty isn't having it....

Oh, boy. Looks like Oreo's on the ground again.

Oreo says, "Sorry, Ludo. I tried to win one for you, but Misty is much bigger than me. Plus, if I let her win, she keeps playing with me! It's way more fun being chased than being the chaser! She's just dumb."

Round 3 *ding*

Monday, February 23, 2009

Brief relief from the zamboni

We got just enough snow to make it possible to play in the backyard again. I didn't bother pulling out any agility equipment, because I know this is short lived and the ice rink will be back tomorrow. The dogs were thrilled to get out and play with each other.

Thanks to everyone for all your nice comments about my new car. You made me feel much better about purchasing my four door dogmobile. When I got home from work today, I only made it halfway up my driveway, then my tires started spinning on some snow/ice. I ended up sliding back down into the road. Hopefully, my new car solves that problem!

"Please Mommy, you haven't played ball with me in ages!"

"OK, how did I end up in this position?"

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Why I need all wheel drive

Why I need all wheel drive:
Why our taxes are so high:

When all she needed was this:
An all wheel drive car to pull her out.
(We got to watch all this from the comfort of our living room. The girl in the car was clearly shocked by all the fuss. I think she would have been much happier to see a tow truck arrive than all those shiny red lights. There was also another fire truck that I was unable to get a photo of)

agility class and a new car

Our agility classes were in the afternoon yesterday, which meant we didn't get home until after 6PM. Both dogs were exhausted, and me too. We do much better when we have class in the morning.

Oreo and I had almost a private lesson again. Just Oreo and one other dog. It has been great having so much instruction, and time to work on new skills. We did a lot of front cross practice, which I really need to work on. I get confused easily about which way to turn, and where the dog is supposed to be in relation to me. Then, we did some obstacle discrimination, where the tunnel was under the A-Frame. Oreo did great, and chose the right obstacle each time. We also got some weave practice in. Oreo was thrilled to be running and jumping. I am going to sign Oreo and me up for an all day handling seminar in March. It is the day after our half day start line stay seminar, so I'm hoping he won't be too tired out doing two days in a row. From what I hear, we will learn a lot in both seminars, as the instructor is very good.

Misty's class progressed nicely this week. Misty got up on the A-Frame for the first time. The teacher just has the dogs work the bottom of the A-Frame at first, and practice the contacts. So, Misty just walked up halfway, and then turned around and did her target. She walked right up like she had done it a million times. I think all our living room jungle gym practice helped her out on that. The dogs also started doing the chute, which is also done very gradually. We only worked them through the chute out about halfway, and still open. Misty did it beautifully. Then, we did some jumps, including the tire. Misty went under the tire a couple times, but then she went through.

One woman in Misty's class said to me, "When you said she was 10, you meant 10 months, not ten years, right?"


Today, I went out and bought a new car. This was a very difficult thing for me to do. I've had the same car for ten years, and it has given me no trouble. I always said I would drive the car until it fell apart. After this winter, I've decided that having all wheel drive would be a good idea, considering our driveway is very steep, and can be difficult to get up if covered in snow. Plus, the roads to our agility class can be quite treacherous if there is a sudden wind or snow squall.

The deals they have right now are really good, plus there's the tax credit from the stimulus package, so I found a small car with all wheel drive that I liked.

Of course all of my questions about the car were, "is the back seat comfy for the dogs", "can the dogs get in and out easily", "will this be good for my agility stuff?", etc. Hmmm, you can see where my priorities lie. Cruise control, air bags? Who cares.


I never thought I would buy a four door car! It just seems so suburban mom to me. Just the words "family car" make me cringe. But I guess, perhaps, I am a suburban "dog mom". I can always have my mid life crisis later.

Friday, February 20, 2009

two sleeping dogs

Misty went back to the vet today for another recheck on her polyp. Everything looked good. Misty has lost a pound in the past month, which surprised me since we have spent so much time indoors. However, when I think about it, she is pretty active even in the house - walking table leafs, weaving, tunneling, etc. Plus, we have been taking a long walk every morning.

The vet said Misty is at the perfect weight for her size, but not to let her lose much more weight! Ah, music to a dog's ears! Feed me more!

When is my photo shoot gonna be over mom? I'm trying to get my beauty rest.

Ah, two sleeping dogs. Maybe I can read my book now.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

hallway weaves

Our yard is still an ice rink. We had some snow, but not enough to give us any traction. I have been trying to come up with ways to keep the dogs busy indoors, and keep exercising their brains and bodies (and continue procrastinating my "to do list").

Last night, I put the weave poles in the hallway, and had Oreo do them independently. He is really starting to learn to "work" on his own. Aww, my little boy is growing up.

Here is a short video of his progress.

I just started reading Patricia O'Connell's book "Play Together, Stay Together", and she said to never chase your dog while he has a toy in his mouth! Clearly, I didn't follow her advice. Ah, teachers always make the worst students.

This afternoon, I brought the tunnel/chute into the living room. I have a feeling Misty's class will start learning the chute on Saturday, so I want to make sure Misty is feeling really comfortable chuting. She had no problem doing it today. Hopefully that translates to the class!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Oreo's American Idol Audition

I've gotten away from my "everyday dog activities" series. Here is a video of one my favorites - Oreo singing!

We found out Oreo could sing by accident. When Oreo was a puppy, Jeff was whistling, and Oreo put his nose in the air and sang along. It was so cute, that we've encouraged Oreo to "sing" almost everyday.

I love this dog.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

tire for misty

I took the dogs out to play at our agility school this morning. I threw Oreo's ball around for a bit, since he really hasn't been able to play ball for almost a week now, due to the ice in our yard. Then, I ran him through the course that was set up in the building. We also practiced some serpentines, and some front crosses.

Misty worked on a tire jump for the first time. She also did some tunnels, a tippy plank on the floor, jumps, and the table. I'm going to keep her off the A-frame, until we do it with her class. She has shown no interest in trying it on her own, so I think I'll wait for my teacher's help.

While we were there, a guy came to change out the porta potty outside. As soon as the truck pulled up, the dogs started barking their heads off, as if they were home barking at the delivery man. Just when I got them calmed down, and playing again, the guy decided to come in the building to say hello! I was surprised when he opened the door, both dogs ran right up to him as if he were their long lost friend. I know dogs like the smell of poop, so perhaps that was the reason for this sudden burst of friendliness!

I took this mini video with my pocket camera.

My goals today were to let the dogs burn off some energy, run, and have fun. I think I met those 3 goals. Now, if only I could get motivated to do all the other things on my "to do" list that have nothing to do with dogs.....

Monday, February 16, 2009

more tricks

Ludo has impressed us so much with his "hands up/bang bang" routine, that I decided to try and teach Oreo just to do "beg" today.

I've tried in the past, but I gave up because Oreo kept laying down when I tried to lure him up with the treat.

Today, I persevered and we succeeded! Rather quickly I might add! What you can accomplish when you have a day off from work! I even got my taxes done as well!

The begging, where Oreo is no longer resting against my leg, was truly his first time doing it on his own. I just thought I'd give it a shot while I had the camera on. Oreo just loves to perform for the camera!

Now, we don't want poor Misty to feel left out. I tried doing "beg" with her, but it didn't go quite as well. We'll keep working on it. So, here she is showing off her cross paws, and some improved elephant work.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

so tired

Misty was so tired from our excursion to the Tractor Supply store she couldn't even get her entire body on the couch. She said, "Close enough, I'm sleeping right here." Big sigh........

the dogs go shopping

Jeff wanted to go to the Tractor Supply store today. We don't own a tractor, nor do we need supplies for one. Jeff assured me they had lots of cool stuff there, and he thought we could bring the dogs in the store. So, I thought it would be a good opportunity to get Oreo out and about to a new environment and to see new people.

We walked in the store, and were greeted warmly by the staff. They told us about other dogs who had come in recently and peed on their feet! Then, they told us about other dogs, and even a sheep (gasp!) who proceeded to poop around the store. Clearly, they did not care that our two small, potty trained animals were in the store. In fact, I think they enjoyed having the dogs come shop!

Both Oreo and Misty were shy around the nice people, but they sniffed the strangers hands and allowed brief touches. They didn't act like friendly, slobbering Labradors, but I was happy that neither ran the opposite direction.

Once we had spent some time there, and heard all about everyone else's dog, I decided to show off a bit. I had Oreo lay down and cross his paws. He did. Twice, with every ounce of cuteness in his precious soul.

Here in a strange place, with a bunch of strange people, my timid, shy dog was performing!

Just an hour earlier, Oreo had refused to "go potty" in his own backyard, because our neighbor happened to be outside in his yard! Oreo just barked his head off, and ran inside.

I can't figure him out.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Oreo and I went to our small dog handling workshop this afternoon. When we got there we were handed these sequences:


I thought, "Oh boy, what have I gotten myself into?" We have never done anything this complicated. I hoped we were up for the challenge.

The courses on the left, are "regular" course set ups. The ones on the right, are "teacup" style. Teacup is a division for dogs under a certain height, where the courses are tighter and the obstacles are shrunken. In this workshop, we were going to do the regular courses first, then switch to the teacup. This would show us how you need to adjust your handling when the obstacles are closer together.

Oreo was one of the larger dogs in this class! Only Oreo and one other dog were jumping 12 inches. All the other dogs were jumping lower, even down to 4 inches! So, this was a big change for us. We are used to hanging with border collies, collies, and shelties!

On our first run, we followed the "circle numbers". (Took me awhile to figure out why there were circle and squares on the diagram - duh!) I was worried about the tunnels being under the A-Frame and dogwalk, because Oreo has never seen that before. That was no problem for Oreo.


Second run, we followed the "square numbers". I knew this would be trickier, because we would be heading toward "the crowd". This always freaks Oreo out. When we got to jump 3, he lost focus. Then, when we got to the dogwalk, he kept going thru the tunnel. After the third try, I got him on the dogwalk, and he was good to go! We got through the very tricky jump handling at the opposite end of the building - more thanks to Lian! All the baby snake and serpentine practice paid off ~ again!

The instructor gave me some good advice. She told me to be sure to reward Oreo when he was near "the crowd", as soon as I got his attention. I rarely reward until the end of a sequence, so I will definitely remember to take the time to stop and do that.

When we switched to the "teacup" sequences, I thought Oreo and I might actually do better, because in our yard, I set our jumps really close together. This is the type of handling we do all the time.

Our "circle numbers" run was not so great. I felt like we were all over the place, and we had to go back to a couple obstacles. On our "square number" run, we went first. This was clearly the most difficult sequence of the day, especially numbers 4-10. Most people walked the course several times. I walked it once, thought "I'm just going to wing it, and see how I feel when Oreo is out here." I was thrilled when Oreo went up the dogwalk, instead of tunneling. He went over the jump, did a blind cross into the tunnel, and then we eased our way through the jump sequence, and finished without any mistakes. I don't know how we did it, but it felt really good.

When we got back to the start, someone said, "I don't want to go after her!" Then, I got a lot of compliments. What a lot of people said was, "He is so focused on you the whole time" and "You guys looked so smooth out there." That made me feel really good. It was a great way to end the workshop.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Took the dogs for a walk this morning, and brought my pocket camera along. The landscape is constantly changing with the melting and freezing cycle we have going on.

The dogs find some leaves left over from fall.
This one's for you Dad! There must be ice under the running water.
I love how the trees look like columns. This walkway is quite stunning in the Fall when the mountains straight ahead are all red and orange.

Friday, February 13, 2009

ice rink

Our February thaw didn't last long enough to get rid of all our ice. So, our yard is officially a skating rink, with no warm temps in the forecast.

This means all outdoor training and playing will have to be put on hold until it warms up or we get another snow storm!

May sound weird, but I actually am hoping more for snow! Then, I don't have to deal with mud.

The one clear spot of the yard, where the dogs' table used to be!

Oreo and I will be heading to our workshop tomorrow afternoon. Then, I have a week off from school. Hopefully, I can get both dogs out to their school one day during the week to practice indoors, since we can't play outside.
Here is the video of Misty doing "solo" teeters, while we still had some traction in the yard.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Don't try this at home

I was going to post a video of some "quality" 2o/2o training I did in the backyard today, with the teeter resting on the table. However, that will have to wait.

After all the practice Misty had walking the teeter while it was stationary, I decided to see if she would speed up with the teeter pivoting.

This was the result:

Can you believe Misty was afraid of the teeter not long ago? I think these two dogs make quite a team. Were they working together? It had to take some skill - right? After these 3 double dog runs, I insisted on single dog teeters only. The ground is still very icy, and I didn't want an injury due to their silly games. Moms always ruin all the fun.

Aunt Betty, I've been thinking about you and Uncle Dan today. I love you, and I hope this silly video made you smile.

Monday, February 9, 2009

our graveyard walk

Both Ludo and Ricky have recently posted photos of their walks in a graveyard, so I thought I'd post some from our daily walk. We always walk in the cemetery. Usually, we share the cemetery with some cool wildlife, like turkeys and deer, but we didn't see any this time. They must be camera shy.

The dogs are wearing their boots, to protect their paws from the salt on the roads. Oreo's paws are very sensitive to the salt.

Oreo leads the way.

Pretty evergreens, help keep the snow from making it to the ground,

so Oreo is able to locate some grass!
Misty is so upset that her red boots don't match her purple harness. "So embarrassing."

It is hard to get much walking done, when there are so many good things to smell.