Friday, July 31, 2009

more targets

Got some target practice in this morning before the next batch of rain.....yes more rain in the forecast. Luckily the forecast for tomorrow's run thrus is good. A lot of people, including me, will have to find alternate routes to get there though, because many roads are still closed due to the damage caused by Wednesday's storms.

I varied my treats this morning to see which created the most drive. I think my bacon/cheese snacks were the most influential today. They were something completely out of the ordinary for Oreo. I'm going grocery shopping today, and will buy some special treats to bring to the run thrus tomorrow.

Roast beef maybe? We'll see what looks good.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

no class

We didn't go to class last night. There were several roads closed due to floods and mudslides. My teacher sent out an email saying that an 800 foot section of her road was wiped out. Hopefully, they will have it all fixed by Saturday.

Since it was pouring, I decided to work on send to target with Oreo inside. Here is a short video, poor quality due to poor lighting. I started filling the target and then did some without food on the target. He definitely had more drive when there was food on the target! However, with Misty in the house, it is kind of a pain to try and keep two dogs from getting to the target. If I shut Misty in a room she would wail like she was being hung by her toenails. Heartbreaking.

I am not saying "target", because I use that for when I want the dogs to touch something with their paw. I guess I am calling this "get it", and I am just looking for drive toward the target and some sort of touch - nose/paw. Oreo seems to really like this game.

Having him stop on hardwood floor, probably not the best idea. I started out with the target at the other end of the hallway, so he was mostly on carpet, but it didn't make for good videography! LOL.

Today, we will work on this outside with the teeter resting on the table. I can tie Misty up outside, so I can use food filled targets exclusively, and Oreo can get some traction.

Then, I can tie Oreo up, and he can pout while Misty gets to do some targeting.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Boy its hot!

Boy it is HOT out! I'm hoping it cools down before our run thrus on Saturday. We've never had to do agility in weather this warm. The dogs don't seem to want to do much at all right now, except lay around. We've been spoiled this summer.

My teacher is holding class indoors tonight, because of the threat of thunderstorms. I'm not sure if we will go or not. I don't want to be driving in downpours on that windy road. I'll see what the doppler looks like as the time gets closer.

I got my CD with all our photos from our July DOCNA trial. I put them together in a little movie, more for myself so I could burn them onto the DVD with the videos of our runs.

The photographer, Dottie Piroha, was kind enough to enhance some of the photos to bring out Oreo's eyes. Black dogs' eyes often get lost in photos. She noticed that that had happened, and wanted to improve on her work. The CD she sent had both the original and the edited version of the photos. She's great, and reasonable. I've looked at some of the other local photographers who come to trials, and their prices are much higher.

I really like analyzing the photos, just as much as the videos of our runs. From the photos, you can see we have a lot of stress issues on the teeter. Too much hang time = nervous dog. He needs to keep moving. He also seems to notice the photographer A LOT. I think he did the weave poles with one eye on the camera.

I initially worked on slowing him down on the teeter, because I was worried he was going to fly off. Now, I think we need to go back to running it, like he does on his mini teeter at home.

I'm also not convinced that a 2o/2o on the dogwalk is the way to go for us. Anything that encourages stopping does not seem like a good idea. It just gives Oreo another opportunity to look around for evil lurking in corners.

He doesn't lack confidence in how to do the dogwalk, it's everything around that is distracting him and making him nervous. I think sending him to a meatball filled target after the dogwalk in practice is better than having him stop on a target.

If he starts flying over the dogwalk (oh how I wish) and missing the contact, then we can go back and rethink things.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

tricky t-day - just ducky

Misty gets a starring role in this week's trick.

Since I taught Misty to "target" with her paw, it is one of her favorite things to do when we start "doing tricks". If I'm working with Oreo, she starts walking around, putting her paw on things, hoping I'll reward her.

I guess she is doing her own version of freetiming.

This trick, I put on cue, with a couple toys (a duck & a pig) we received for entering our last trial.
(Oreo was not supposed to be in this photo, but he jumped right in. He can be such a brat sometimes. )

I guess you could call this "object discrimination", if you wanted to get technical.

For all my gushy Misty fans....this one's for you.

Monday, July 27, 2009


Yesterday, the deer I usually see on our morning walk had two babies with her! They looked about 1-2 weeks old at most. They still had all their "bambi" spots. Of course I didn't have my camera with me!

Today, I came prepared!

Sorry for the poor quality/shakiness of this video. I shot it with my pocket camera in zoom mode. But, you do get to see both babies and mama.
After the dogs noticed them (which caused a ruckus), the deer scattered into the woods lining the cemetery.

Before she had her babies, the mama would hang out with us, regardless of the dogs' barking. She'd just look at us, watch, then go back to eating.

Hopefully, we'll see them again tomorrow. Maybe I'll take photos, so you get a better view of the babies.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

another oreo

Sadly, another Oreo has reached the end of his journey here on earth. When I saw all the titles that Nicki's Oreo had achieved listed next to his name, I thought this would be a good time to put this essay on my blog. I've been saving it for the right moment.


Not just a brag, not just a stepping stone to a higher title, not just an adjunct to competitive scores, a title is a tribute to the dog that bears it, a way to honor the dog, an ultimate memorial. It will remain in record and in memory for as long as anything in this world can remain. Few humans will do as well or better in that regard.

And though the dog itself doesn't know or care that its achievements have been noted, a title says many things in the world of humans, where such things count.

A title says your dog was intelligent and adaptable, and good-natured. It says that your dog loved you enough to do the things that please you, however crazy they may have sometimes seemed.

And a title says that you loved your dog, that you loved to spend time with it because it was a good dog, that you believed in it enough to give it yet another chance when it failed, and that, in the end, your faith was justified.

A title proves that your dog inspired you to that special relationship enjoyed by so few; that in a world of disposable creatures, this dog with a title was greatly loved, and loved greatly in return.

And when that dear short life is over, the title remains as a memorial of the finest kind, the best you can give to a deserving friend, volumes of pride in one small set of initials after the name.A title earned is nothing less than love and respect, given and received, and permanently recorded.
By Sandra Mowery

busy month ahead

I can't believe its almost August!

August is going to be a busy agility month! We are pretty much booked every weekend. This Saturday we will be doing run thrus. Our school is holding a fund raiser for border collie rescue, and there will be all sorts of activities - dock diving, flyball, sheepherding, and of course, agility. It will be good to get some extra practice in, with lots of distractions around!

Then, we have two CPE trials and one DOCNA trial. Our first CPE trial is going to be big. The trial is full, and there will be two rings. That means there will be 500 runs in one day! Wow.

Oh yea, we're also going on vacation for a week.

Today, I began making meatballs so I could stock up for these events! Oreo expects to be well rewarded for all his hard work. Misty expects to be rewarded for looking pretty and being patient.

Funny, I make the dogs homemade meatballs, but I buy Jeff and me the premade/frozen kind.

Here is my recipe if anyone wants to give their dog an extra special reward:

1lb of ground turkey (sometimes I use bison meat instead)
2 eggs
1/4 cup grated romano cheese (parmesan works too)
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tbls basil
1 tbls parsley
1/4 cup bread crumbs

Mix together (I use an electric mixer). Then, scoop out by tablespoon onto a cookie tray. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

I line my cookie tray with foil, for easy clean up. I also have a tbls size cookie scoop that makes this process go super fast. By the time the oven is heated, I am done mixing and scooping.

before baking

This recipe makes about 45-50 meatballs, which can then be broken into smaller pieces too, for rapid succession rewarding (so dog doesn't swallow it whole!).


I freeze them, and bring them to the agility field frozen. That way, I know they are fresh in the summer heat. They thaw out pretty quick in your hand/pocket.

Oreo wasn't nearly as exuberant in this video as in his dinner & cookie dance, but this was a LONG wait for him.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

photo shoot

I brought my camera in the yard last night, and when I plugged the camera into my computer to download it said I had 89 photos. I couldn't believe I had taken that many in a matter of 10 minutes. Many I deleted. Here are a few that I liked.

I tried to snap a photo of Oreo catching his ball, and all I got was this. For some reason, I just couldn't delete this photo.

A sign of affection? Or is Oreo smelling Misty's bad breath?

Misty is displaying a calming signal with her tongue. She's not a fan of having a camera in her face. But, I loved Oreo's expression in this photo. He had just heard Jeff's car pull into the driveway.
This photo needs no explanation.
Have a good weekend!

Friday, July 24, 2009

morning practice

Got some practice in this morning, before the afternoon rain. Yes, more rain predicted.

Boy is our grass green.

Oreo did really well on this exercise, that I got out of my clean run exercise book. We did 3 (or was it 4?) different variations, and then called it quits when Oreo started doing the poles slow. I don't want him to get in the habit of strolling through them!

I think I needed to do more today to get Oreo fired up on the start line. Although, he had more enthusiasm after watching Misty run. A little jeaoulousy never hurts.

I also notice that whenever I switch the sequence from the original, he slows down. I don't know if Oreo is confused, being cautious about making a mistake, or what the deal is. Could be a confidence issue. He'd rather keep doing the original, because he knows how to do that correctly?
Perhaps I am using too much psychology. Who knows what goes on in that miniscule brain of his. Really, his head is so small!

I had Misty do just the first exercise. She did well. I was impressed at her "send to tunnel" skills this morning. She didn't do so well on the jumps, but when I watched the video, I could tell my hand signals were really late and unclear to her.

What was amazing was her weaving! Misty got all the weave entries, and she did the whole set of 6 several times, without me pointing to where she had to go! I rarely have her do the poles, because I figure, what's the point?

Misty is such a sweetheart.

Now, I have two sleeping dogs. Time to finish one of my six library books!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

a class without rain

We made it through class last night without a drop of rain!

My teacher had set up a bunch of practice drills from Bud Houston's blog. I like how she always tells us where she got the sequences from.

The first one was all jumps, full of pinwheels. There were so many ways to handle it! I did it twice and never handled it the way I had planned.
Oreo was distracted a bit both runs. The course was set up close to the gate. People were moving about, and cars were still pulling in for class. I thought if I just ran him he would get focused. He ran...but he had one eye on the people.

Therefore, he wasn't as speedy as I'd like, but it is good for him to learn to deal with the commotion.

After our last run, one of my classmates said, "You know you don't need to bring him so close to jump number 7, he does have some distance skills and it would save you some running if you would just send him."

Really? People keep telling me he has distance skills, and I've been afraid to let him go in class. I really should start trying it out.

The next sequence included some more obstacles, including a couple tunnels.

My goal for this sequence was to send Oreo to the tunnel from a few feet away.

This sequence was set up at the opposite end of the field. No distractions around.

On our first turn however, people were still hanging out on the field after walking the course. I thought, "Well, I'm going to run him anyway and see what he does." Surprisingly, Oreo did a very brief start line stay, and then really did well on the course! He was speedy and focused.

We did this short sequence to end the night. Oreo rocked it!
We did it twice, because he was really on fire. I was sending him to the tunnels from a distance, and then I was able to get some distance away from the tunnel, so he came flying out toward me. After the sequence was over, he even did a bonus fly over the A-Frame as I was walking back to get our leash. He was so happy to be out there.

It was a great way to end the class.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

tunnel drills

We did some tunnel work on Monday - it rained all day Tuesday.

First, I just did some simple circles to focus on speed.

Then, I did some sequences that had tricky tunnel entrances, especially after pattern training the circle!

Oreo did really well with both tasks. The harder sequences definitely slowed him down, since he had to think and turn more. Plus, my obstacles were pretty close together.

You'll see in the video, that I used three different rewards for the simple circle - a tug toy, his favorite ball, and treats. I couldn't figure out which one created the most drive. They all seemed to work to me. I used the tug/ball in the morning and the treats in the afternoon when it was warmer.

After watching this, I realize I need to stop being so lazy and secure both tunnels. That red one was rolling all over when Oreo was flying thru it. The blue one was staked.

I can see my dad playing this video several times just so he can tap his feet to the song I picked out! It is so him! I can put it on your mp3 player for you dad.

Agility class tonight! Hopefully no rain....

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

tricky t-day - freetimin'

OK, here is our first stab at freetiming.

Dee and Ludo explained to us that freetiming is where you present your dog an object. Then, you wait for your dog to do something with the the object. Once your dog starts doing something you like, you click/reward and then give it a name.

In clicker terminology, this is called "capturing".

Basically, the dog is coming up with his own trick, instead of you teaching him how to do something.

This is hard for me. The method doesn't fit in with my teaching style at all! With my human students, I am a "step by step" instructor, break everything down. I was vehemently against the "whole language movement", which advocated teaching kids to read organically, by just being near books. It didn't work. Phonics works.

However, Oreo, being as bright as he is, had no problem with freetiming.

Here's what Oreo came up with:

Until I watched the video, I didn't notice Oreo doing the handstand. Otherwise, I would have gone with that (being a former gymnast myself). Maybe I can still get him to do that.
"Aren't I clever?"
I must say, I am having so much fun making these videos! I am creating quite a collection to burn onto a DVD. That way when I am living in a retirement home, I can relive all these fun moments while waiting for the therapy dog's weekly visit!

Of course DVD's will be obsolete by that time- moved on to the landfill with the 8-tracks, records, cassettes, and VHS's! Hopefully, I'll be able to convert them to whatever the latest thing is!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

and there he is

I think I may have written about "Charles" before, but he is such an amazing man he deserves another story.

Today, we went to our local home improvement store - the big, orange colored one. Jeff needed some sort of clamp, for some sort of part he is building, for some sort of something he is going to sell on EBay.

Really, that's all I know.

We went to the plumbing aisle, and were so relieved to see "Charles" there. Whenever we need to find a plumbing part, it is so much easier when Charles is on duty. None of the plumbing in our house is "standard", so anytime we need to replace something, we always have to come up with some concoction to make it work.

If you're not a plumber (and we're not), this can be an overwhelming and frustrating task.

Charles makes it easy (he should carry the easy button!). In fact, if he's not working, sometimes we just decide to come back another day.

It is not hard to spot Charles in the long, wide aisle filled with pipes, elbows, clamps, etc.

Charles is the man with the guide dog.

Charles is visually impaired, and he brings his guide dog, "Georgie", with him to work.

Georgie is a yellow lab. A sweet soul, who lays at Charles' feet while he chats with customers.

When we talked to Charles today, I gave Georgie a scratch on the head, a "good boy", and he promptly lay down, and did a perfect "cross your paws" all on his own.

Jeff whispered, "Look, he's crossing his paws!"

I know you aren't supposed to pet guide dogs when they are working, but Charles doesn't seem to mind, and Georgie doesn't either.

"What are you looking for?" Charles asks.

Jeff tells him.

"Oh, you won't find that size here," Charles says.


Jeff pulls something off the shelf that he thinks might work, but says it too is the wrong size.

Charles says, "Let me see it."

Jeff put the clamp in Charles' hand.

"It's 1 and 7/8th's," Charles says.

"But the label says 2 inches," Jeff rebuts.

"I don't care what the label says, it's 1 and 7/8ths," Charles argues, pulls out his tape measure and hands it to Jeff.

Jeff measures it, and of course, Charles was right.

As usual.

Charles knows where every item in that aisle is located, and can tell what each item is, including the size, just by the feel. It is truly amazing, and until you witness it you can't fully appreciate it.

Plus, Charles gives great advice, as he has a wealth of knowledge about plumbing.

Charles is a rare kind of soul. He's the type person you would like to sit and have a long talk with about all sorts of topics, not just plumbing. There's no doubt in my mind that he would give a perfect stranger the shirt off his back, or the last dollar in his pocket. That is the spirit he exudes.

Today, he told us that Georgie is going into retirement. He has reached the golden age of ten. A new guide dog will be coming to take his place.

Charles told us, "Georgie is really owned by the feds you know. So, he's kind of your dog. You paid for him."

Oh no. I thought, what is going to happen to Georgie now?

Jeff was brave enough to ask.

"We are going to adopt Georgie, and my wife will be taking him to local hospitals to do therapy work," Charles explained.

I wanted to cry with joy. Georgie gets to stay in his home, and do a new line of work in retirement. Kind of like Charles, who confessed today, he spent years working as an engineer. He just does this job for some extra money, and to get out and about.

Charles and Georgie. Two kind souls, reaching out to people, doing good deeds.

We were ready to leave. I gave Georgie what may be my last pat on the head, shook Charles' hand, and wished him good luck with his new guide dog.

Charles said, "You know, every morning I wake up, and there Georgie is."

What more could you really ask for in a dog?

video clip

While I changed his name (and the dog's name) in my post above, here is a video clip I found so you can appreciate what a treasure we have at our local big box store!

a walk thru the garden

in the shade, a fairy lurks

Heliopsis look for the sun

coneflowers wait for the butterlies

hydrangeas blossoms, each unique with their own shade - from pink to light blue and everything in between

Oreo helps clean the muddy pawprints off the freshly stained deck

indoors ain't so bad either

Saturday, July 18, 2009

independent obstacles class

I took Oreo to the independent obstacles class last night, and the minute we pulled into the driveway it began to pour.

Really pour.

The instructor had us all go under the huge tent and talk for awhile - to wait out the storm. I was so glad I had left Misty at home. She would have been a wreck.

The first question she asked us was, "What is your dogwalk criteria?"

Uh, I don't really have any. I just want Oreo to stop looking around.

The instructor knows my dog, she's pretty much been around him since the beginning. So, she said, "I know you think he's always going to make his contacts, because he's going slow and staying with you. But one of these days he's going to get his confidence and become fast."


Then she said, "If you give him some criteria so he knows what he is supposed to be doing, that will help him become more confident."

Makes sense.

I told her that he knows how to "target", and he knows 2o/2o, but we don't really train it.

We talked about all the other obstacles, and she had some really good and insightful things to say. I kept looking at the obstacles, wanting to get out there so we could try stuff.

It kept raining....and raining....and raining. But, at least it wasn't pouring anymore.

Finally, she said, "OK let's get your dogs on the dogwalk."

So, we went out in the rain.

First, I ran Oreo across the dogwalk like usual. He stopped to sniff on the up plank, which he never does. I think it was because it was wet.

Then, she put a jump bar on the ground about one and a half feet in from the end of the dogwalk, and told me I was not allowed to run past that bar. She wanted to see if Oreo would run all the way to the end "independently".

Hence the name of the class!

Well, I stopped at the bar, and guess who else stopped at the bar.

Oreo dog. He stopped, and looked at me like I was nuts, "That's a weird place for you to stop mom!"

Talk about a velcro dog.

That's when the instructor said, "You need to start sending him to a target on the flat. Once he's going gleefully from 100 feet away, then you start doing it from the down plank."

It starts to pour.

Really pour.

She gave us the option of continuing in the rain, or giving her less money for the class.

I opted to leave. Oreo doesn't even like to go potty in the rain, and I didn't want to create a negative experience for him.

But, I really would have loved to do the tunnel exercise she set up.

I guess we are back to "target practice". I'll be anxious to see if it helps improve his speed/confidence. It makes sense, because if he glances away, I can say "target", and hopefully he will look towards the end of the dogwalk.

Wish us luck. This seems like a lot of work.

Friday, July 17, 2009

mistaken identity

This picture's quality isn't the best, but it is how Oreo looks most of the time in the house, when he's not asleep.

Outside, it is the orbee in his mouth. Inside, it is the planet dog softball.

Wanna play?

My agility teacher is a volunteer for the local border collie rescue organization. She went to evaluate a dog the other day, because his owner had died. When she arrived at the house, she saw a sheltie on the porch. "Cute dog", she thought. She told the people at the house that she was there for "Tippy". They pointed to the sheltie.

They thought Tippy was a border collie. Even the paperwork from the vet, indicated Tippy was a border collie.

I met 10 year old Tippy on Wednesday. He is a sweet, sweet boy. He and Misty almost had a little nose kiss. They are about the same age and all!

He's going to the groomer this week, can't wait to see how beautiful he looks after a good trim, and brushing.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

agility class

I took Oreo to his weekly class last night. There were only two other dogs there last night, but there were lots of distractions.

-sheep bleating
-dogs in the yard playing tetherball (yes tetherball)
-people talking
-cows mooing
-classmate snapping photos from the sidelines (click, click....)
-teacher standing close to us/moving around the ring

All of the above had Oreo stopping and turning to check things out.

What didn't bother him was people shouting words of praise! Isn't that funny? Whenever my teacher or classmates said, "Wow!", "Good boy", "Good job", it didn't bother him at all. But the faint sound of the camera clicking made him stop midway up the A-Frame, and he turned and walked down the wrong way.

Go figure.

I was glad to have all the distractions, and be able to work through them with clicking/food/encouragement.

When Oreo was waiting for his turn, he was barking! This is new. He has never barked in class before.

I'm not sure what this means-if it is good or bad.

When we did our weave poles, I heard people saying "wow". I thought he was going slow, compared to what he does at home. They must have thought he was going faster than usual. I guess that is a good sign.

Overall, Oreo had a good class. We are getting really good at back crosses, which is quite surprising to me! I thought we'd never be able to do them, and now I do them all the time, without even thinking about it.

We'll be taking another class on Friday with a different instructor. This class will focus on independent obstacle performance. I'm not really sure what that will entail. She's starting the class with dogwalk and then moving to the tunnel, which is perfect for us! Those are the two obstacles I want to boost Oreo's confidence on the most!

The instructor has a lot of knowledge about clicker training, so I am hoping to get some help as to when I should be clicking in class the most. I feel like maybe I should be clicking more when he is doing the obstacle without being distracted. Recently, I have been clicking after he refocused. I'm just not sure I am sending him the right message. I know she will set me straight.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

weave practice

I've been working Oreo on weave poles for a few minutes each day. I decided I am only going to practice weaves when he is in the mood, energetic, and happy. That way he will get in the habit of only doing them fast.

That is my goal anyway. Keep him happy, speedy, and not over do it. My ultimate goal is to get him going this fast in class. Then, my next goal will be to translate that to a trial.

We do them about 6 times a day. Usually he still wants to do more, but I can see he is getting tired and slowing down, so I stop. Sometimes I use food, and sometimes I use his ball, depending on what he is into at the moment.

Yesterday, I set up a few jumps, to try some different entries.

Here is one I tried on a whim, and was surprised Oreo got it. Why do I always underestimate him????

I went in and got the video camera, and he did it 2 more times, before we packed up for the night. I wanted to add a jump after the poles, but I could see him slowing down. We'll try that today.

He is going to be in for a surprise at our CPE trials in August when there are only 6 poles....until we get our level 2 title!

study MY dog next time!

I saw this article online yesterday. It basically says dogs are as smart as two year old children, but not as smart as three year olds. At least in their ability to understand gestures. Apparently this is news?

Not to dog people!

Obviously, Oreo was excluded from their research experiment.

Put my dog up against any three year old, any day!
We're ready for a challenge!

Is your toddler smarter than Oreo? I don't think so.

(MB's children excluded of course)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

tricky t-day

OK, I am done working on our left/right paws for a while. I don't think Misty is ever going to learn her left from right, no matter how much I work her. She does know I want her to alternate lifting her paws though. When I work with Oreo, she will stand next to me "marching", just hoping I will notice. It is so cute.

So, here is a video hi-lighting the culmination of our "kick line trick", with some ol' favorites thrown in. This is as good as it is going to get....for now. Maybe someday I'll come back to it, but we need a break from the paw discrimination tricks.

Sorry the video is kind of dark, we didn't have good lighting when I shot this.

And yes, Oreo did get kicked in the ribs toward the end. If he wasn't doing all that circling it wouldn't have happened. Sorry, buddy.

We will be trying out "free timing" for next tricky t-day, like Ludo & Dee suggested. That means Oreo kind of gets to make up his own trick. Should be interesting, he is a tricky character.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

No more griping

OK, my last post was a bit of a gripe session. I admit, I may have made a mountain out of a mole hill.

I watched "Slumdog Millionaire" last night, and realized I have no right to complain about a man not saying sorry about a near miss with a grocery cart.

However, although I may complain about small things, I also get very excited over small things.

For example, last night I was about to cook up a box of instant mashed potatoes. I flipped over the box to read the directions. I noticed the directions were different than usual.

Oh no, I thought, I must have bought the wrong kind.

Then I looked at the very top and saw the words, "NEW DIRECTIONS(thicker texture and no boilover)".

Well, I wanted to do a dance around the kitchen right then and there!

In the past, every time I made the instant potatoes I would have to watch the pot like a hawk, because if you stepped away for one brief second, the milk in the pot would bubble up, spill over the sides and make a big mess! It was the worst, and it happened just about every time.

So these new directions, that would prevent a messy boilover, was the highlight of my day! Now I can make instant mashed potatoes without babysitting the pot! I love you Betty Crocker!

See, little things can make me happy.

In other news....we brought the dogs to a local state park on the Hudson River. Here are a few photos. Oreo liked to get on the bench. He definitely feels more confident being up high when in strange places. Misty could care less, as long as she gets to stop and pee every few feet.

rude man

I went grocery shopping yesterday. I was walking up an aisle with my cart. Just as I got to the end of an aisle, I almost sideswiped a man who was walking his cart perpendicular to mine. I stopped before we had a collision.

Happens all the time. In fact, it probably happens 2-3 times each trip I make to the grocery store. I'm sure it happens to you as well.

Proper grocery store etiquette when this event occurs:
Each person pushing a cart smiles, and says, "oops, I'm sorry", then continues on their way.

Yesterday, I did my part. The other "gentleman" did not. He did not make eye contact. Did not speak. He didn't even glance toward me. He just continued on his way.

Oh, how it irritated me! How rude!

It is not like he had the "right of way". There is no "right of way" in the grocery store. There are no stop signs! He was just as "at fault" as me.

I thought about it all day. It was the first thing I thought about when I woke up this morning.

I tried to rationalize his actions.

Perhaps rude man was:

a. deaf - but he still could have put his hand up, in a "sorry" motion, and looked at me
b. unable to speak English - but even I know how to apologize in several languages, and if I was visiting a country, I would learn "sorry","please" & "thank you"
c. mad at his wife for sending him to the store, so he hates all women today

I'm going with "c".

If I see this man again I am going to:
a. shower him with kindness
b. give him a lesson in grocery store etiquette
c. ram my cart into his ankles

Circle the choice you think will apply.

OK, I feel better now.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

its permanent

We've been having a great stretch of perfect summer weather. The next door neighbor's kids have been non existent. So, the dogs and I have enjoyed puttering around the yard, hanging out, and long, lazy afternoons.
I was contemplating signing Oreo up for a few early morning runs in a local CPE trial next Saturday, but decided not to because we hadn't received our permanent height card yet. He had two judges measure him, and he was right on the cusp of being able to jump 12 inches. I didn't want to risk having a third judge measure him. Since, I wasn't sure what would happen if that judge thought he should jump 16. Would that over rule the other 2 judges? Or would his original 2 measurements count?

Wouldn't you know it, our permanent height card came in the mail today! Now, it is too late to enter. Oh well. We'll just have to wait until August for our next trial.

Now we have our permanent cards for both DOCNA and CPE. I think those will be the only two venues we will be doing. After talking to a lot of people, they seem to be the two venues best suited for a team like Oreo and me. Both are friendly, laid back, fun focused, and never serious. Plus, neither requires me to travel, something I told myself I wouldn't do when I began this journey.

Oh yea, they are still selling sprinkles in the grocery store. I saw them on the shelf today. It is just illegal for restaurants to serve any food with transfat. I always have sprinkles in my cupboard. I put them on my sugar cookies. So, I always have a stockpile. I sure hope they taste as good when they start making them without the transfat.

Funny, how cigarettes are still legal, yet transfat isn't. Hmmmmmm.

Friday, July 10, 2009

no more sprinkles

I just heard on the news that sprinkles, both chocolate and rainbow, are now illegal to serve in New York State, due to trans fat!

My favorite summer treat is vanilla soft serve ice cream with rainbow sprinkles. Preferably more sprinkles than ice cream.

I can't see how sprinkles could be worse for your health than the ice cream, and yet blue slushies are still legal? How is it that blue dye no. 5 is good for you?

Guess it is going to be BYOS this summer. Bring Your Own Sprinkles. Or I'll be crossing state lines to get my ice cream fix.

Does anyone in Massachusetts know if sprinkles are still on the menu?

mirror image exercises

I set up some mirror image exercises that I got out of one of my clean run exercise books. There are several different sequences with the same set up of jumps and tunnel. I did three this morning - 2 advanced for Oreo, and 1 intermediate for Misty.

The two advanced were tricky, they slowed us down, and my handling was really exaggerated. In the end, I think I got better. I stood up straighter, and had more confidence that Oreo knew where I wanted him to go.

I am trying to encourage some independence in Misty. She is getting better about tunnel sends, but she really wants me to be moving with her for jumps.

At Oreo's agility class this week, my teacher set up the standard course from the CPE nationals. It had a lot of obstacle discriminations, and some obstacles thrown in to trigger an off course. She also set the green tunnel (our nemesis in our trial) under the dogwalk. I made sure to reward Oreo bigtime when he took that tunnel. In fact, I decided to reward Oreo for all his tunnels, and most of his contacts during class. I remember being at a seminar with a world team member who said, "The difference between world team dogs and other agility dogs is rate of reinforcement."

Since I can't use my clicker or food reinforcements in trials, I am going to start using more in class. Instead of just rewarding at the end of a 18 obstacle sequence, I'm going to start doing a lot more click/treating, especially for tunnels/contacts. It interrupts our flow, which I don't like, but if it helps Oreo become more confident and speedy, it will pay off in the long run. I also click/treated anytime Oreo looked at me when other people/dogs were close by. I deliberately parked next to my classmate who has a boisterous lab puppy. He goes nuts in his crate when she works her other dog. So, I did a lot of click/treating for Oreo tolerating that and focusing on me.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Oreo on a mission

This video proves I have too much time on my hands, and so do my dogs. Oreo hasn't done this since last summer. I thought he had grown out of it.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

trial photos

I have a lot of trial photos from the photographer, since we did so many runs.

These photos, from our snakes & ladders run, really impressed me! Just look at how the judge is staring right at Oreo, and Oreo doesn't even look at her! That is the confidence I am striving for in his whole run. I do know that even though you can't see me in these photos, I put myself between Oreo and the judge. I need to try and do that as often as I can on contact obstacles.

Scroll right to see my favorite photo - Oreo flying off the A-Frame.

Here are the photos from our North America Challenge run. Not a successful run, but you can see how we started off in confidence mode. There was tongue flicking(stress signal) on the teeter, when I didn't get between Oreo and the judge, and then we went onto the dreaded tunnel. If you keep scrolling right to the next dog, you'll see our classmate, Buddy. You'll notice he only has 3 legs! He was given only 4 months to live, and look at him now, 18 months later. Back at agility. Buddy qualified for nationals! Yea Buddy (and Lynn)!

Here are the photos from our NQ standard run. In the first photo you can see how close the people and dog that Oreo stopped to turn and look at are. Can't believe I didn't notice them at the time!

Here are the rest of the links if you have nothing better to do with your time than look at photos of us!

Jumpers 2

Standard 1

Standard 2


Monday, July 6, 2009

tricky t-day

After a much needed day of rest (the dogs slept most of the day Monday), tricky t-day is here.

This week's trick -----crawl. Still doing it with a lot of luring, otherwise Oreo's butt goes in the air and he does more of a "creep". Guess that could be a new trick!

I also got Misty to do a leg kick with her standing beside me - finally! She is just doing the one leg....for now.

I analyzed my videos from Sunday's two NQ runs. Oreo's first tunnel mishap was my fault. I started pulling away before Oreo had "committed to the tunnel" like my teacher has always told me not to do. He saw me leaving, so he backed out of the tunnel. I never resend Oreo into obstacles when we train, I just keep going. I don't know why I tried to resend him at the trial. I get so confused about all the rules, and what I am and am not allowed to do. So, I think when I kept trying to get him in that tunnel he knew he messed up, and he lost his confidence. Totally, my fault. Lack of confidence = slow poke dog.

In our second run, he balked at the green tunnel again. This time, he stopped to look behind him. I noticed on the video, that there were people standing nearby with a big dog. I think that unnerved Oreo, and again he lost his confidence. We never did pick up much speed in that run. In hindsight, I should have put myself on the other side of Oreo to make him feel safe, or at least talked to him the whole time.

Then, I watched our runs from Saturday, which I am so proud of! I ran those like I run him in class. That is what I need to do all the time. Do whatever it takes to keep him happy and confident.

What I learned from watching two days of agility trials is that even the best teams have issues. You just have to figure out what is going to work for your dog. Listen, watch, and adjust. Learn from your mistakes & relish your q's, because boy did you earn them!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

so we ain't perfect....

Oreo and I had a couple blunders today.

In our North America Challenge run, Oreo had some tunnel trouble, and we got an off course so we didn't Q. In our standard run, Oreo took a tunnel, when he was supposed to take the A-Frame. I'm sure that was totally my fault. I wasn't even thinking he would take the tunnel. Otherwise, I would have been more severe with my body language. Duh, on my part! Our standard run, was our slowest run to date. Just not our day.

The courses today were tough. A lot of obstacle discrimination's. Only 1 dog Q'ed the specialist run of the North America Challenge. Most went off course at the same tunnel Oreo did. That stupid green tunnel. I think it stressed all the dogs out.

I could tell by the way Oreo was running that he was still tired from yesterday. He was slower, and more distracted.

I walked the strategic time gamble course, but was really thinking about scratching it. I went over to one of my classmates for advice. She said, "If you have a run you really want to Q later, I wouldn't push it. You know how Oreo gets tired at the end of the day."

After hearing that, I walked right up to the cabin and scratched us off. I've never been good at gambling anyway.

I really wanted to do the jumpers run, because I knew there would be no distractions in the ring, no tunnels, and Oreo loves to do jumping sequences. The course was full of serpentines - our favorite!

I guess I made the right decision, because Oreo ran his fastest course time ever! He did the course in 19.20 seconds, which means he ran 3.90 yards per second, also our fastest ever! We got first & Q. Yea us!

So, we had our slowest run ever (2.27 yards per sec) and fastest in the same day. Go figure.

OK, now I need to apologize to my nephew, Theo. I had an argument with him about stats. Baseball stats. I was trying to convince him they really didn't matter. They don't effect the game.

Sorry, Theo. Now I get it! Stats do matter! To the individual at least!

I learn so much from my seven year old nephew.

I'm now obsessed with my dog's yards per seconds number. Those numbers give me proof that we are getting faster.

Highlights of today:

~ Qing our speedy jumpers run - at the end of a long weekend! 7 runs in two days! Whew!

~seeing my classmates do wonderful runs, after knowing all the hard work they have been doing for months (Go Glitter! That was so AWESOME! Kudos to Buddy, Patty & Barley, Shadow & WB too!)

~having perfectly behaved dogs (er...except for those 2 stolen meatballs before your jumpers run Oreo)

~and just look at all the ribbons Oreo won! Isn't he just a SuperStar?

Here's the video of our North America Challenge & Standard run. Our runs yesterday were much better. I didn't get our jumpers run video taped. Everyone was either packing up their stuff or doing ring crew duties. Too bad, because that was our best run of the day. Although, if you blinked you might have missed us - since it was only a 19 second run!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

4 Q's - Need I Say More?

What a day! It was cold, then hot. Cloudy, then sunny.

It was great fun! Oreo and I lit our own fireworks!

Oreo did all four runs and he Q'ed all of them! His first two standard runs were very speedy. I was thrilled.

He was distracted a bit in our Snakes and Ladders run, but that is all contacts and tunnels. For Snakes & Ladders you design your own course, but you have to do all 3 sets of weaves and the 3 contact obstacles, with any tunnel in between. It wasn't as hard as I thought, but it was tiring.
No chance to get him going with jumps.

Our jumpers run was super easy. I only needed to do one front cross. Oreo was definitely getting tired by that run, but he still pulled off a Q. I don't have video of that run. Our turn came up faster than I expected, and I never got the chance to hand my camera off to anyone. It ended up sitting on the ground by the gate!

I think Oreo's first run was his best, but he was actually faster in his second run, but only by a second.

Let me know if you think he hit the yellow contact on the first A-Frame. The judge says yes - I'm not so sure! Good thing there aren't any instant replays....

The nicest compliment I got today was from the photographer. She told me, "You have the most beautiful expression on your face when you are out there running with your dog."

I told her running with him just makes me so happy.

She told me that it shows.

That's what it is all about.

Here's the video of our first three runs.

I looked at our stats from our first DOCNA trial in May. In our fastest standard run, we did 2.73 yards per second. In our fastest standard run today, we did 3.24 yards per second! I think those numbers mean more than the Q's.

Happy 4th!

Hope everyone has a fun, safe holiday!

We'll be spending ours at the DOCNA trial. Oreo is signed up for 4 runs today and 4 runs on Sunday. We'll do three standard runs, 1 snakes & ladders, 2 jumpers, 1 strategic time gamble, and we'll try to qualify for nationals with our North America Challenge run.

Hopefully Oreo can handle 8 runs. The trial is small, so the wait time between runs shouldn't be too long. I'm so excited, and am anxious to see if Oreo will meet standard course time, now that he has moved out of beginners in the standard runs.

Yesterday, I watched the videos from our first DOCNA trial for some perspective and inspiration. I left that trial feeling so good, even though we were complete disasters in our last run, and Oreo spent most of his runs scoping out the crowd. I was so happy with what we had accomplished as a team.

I mean really, will most people's dogs literally jump through hoops for them? Mine will!

Friday, July 3, 2009

for the dogs

Several months ago, I bought a new car - for my dogs.

Last month, I converted a room into a storage/play area for the dogs' stuff.

Yesterday, Jeff and I were out shopping for a new mattress, ours has deep valleys in it from years of use!

Many couples have difficulty agreeing on a mattress. Not us. All of our concerns and questions were about the dogs.

"Oh, I think the dogs would like this one. It is soft on top."

"Does this one come with a low profile box spring? We need the bed lower, so the dogs can jump on it easily."

Luckily, our salesman was a dog person, who had also bought a low profile box spring for his dog. So, we didn't come off as crazy people.

Next week, our new mattress will be delivered. Sure hope the dogs like the one we picked out for them.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

weird weather

Last night, I was going to skip class. It was down pouring. Streets were being closed, due to flooding. The meteorologists said, "This is a deadly situation."

I checked the doppler radar online, and saw that if I drove about 5 miles south east, the skies were completely clear.

Where is my agility school? 20 miles south east. I knew my drive was straight up a mountain, so I didn't really have to worry about the flooding. All the flooding seemed to be in the river valleys.

Off we go!

It was so strange. After about a 15 minute drive, the roads were completely dry. There was no water on the grass at school, and no mud in their driveway! We had a two hour class, with just a few sprinkles.

Oreo had some good runs. We did a full course sequence, and I did a lot of clicking/food rewards for tunnels, dogwalks, and when he focused on me. Anything to get him prepped for the trial. Have I told you that I am addicted to my clicker?

At the end of the night, we did some fun jumpwork, with serpentines, acceleration/deceleration, and lateral work. I LOVED IT!

Oreo was so good! I just love doing jumping exercises with him, he is so smooth and we just flow. He even did a startline stay while my teacher talked to me!

After our last run, my teacher said, "Oreo knows this game, I want you to run really fast, and see what happens."


WOW! He really picked up A LOT of speed.

I can't wait for our trial!

On my drive home, when we got about 5 miles from home, the rain got vicious. My street was flooded!

Weather is so strange.

I was glad I decided to make the trip, because otherwise we would have been stuck inside all night.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

between the storms

Still raining a lot around here, which is helping our new grass seed grow. When we had our new water line installed, a lot of our front lawn got dug up. So, we had to replant a lot of seed. The good thing was it gave us the push we needed to finally get rid of the big weedy, wild section of our yard next to our shed. We dug up all the weeds, and planted grass. I also got to transplant some of my perennials, and start a new bed next to the shed. Can't wait until it all fills in! Only took us 15 years to get rid of those weeds and pricker bushes!
The dogs have gotten into their summer vacation mode already, and are enjoying lazy days of lolling around. I'm hoping the rain holds off, so we can have one more agility class tonight before our trial on Saturday! Weather looks good for the weekend. Nice and cool - good for the dogs (and humans), and just a chance of storms.

"I see you."

My new garden, with room to grow. It'll look better when the grass grows in!

Some days I look around my garden, and can't believe how beautiful it has become! Today was one of those days.

Ah, the things you can stop and appreciate when you don't have to work for two months!