Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I'm the problem

Thank you to everyone who commented on my weave pole post the other day. Perhaps we should have our own little weave pole forum. I appreciated all your suggestions, encouragement, discouragement and bits of sanity. Honestly, I don't know what I was thinking.

I never thought we "had a problem" with weave poles, until some else mentioned their dog starting slow and getting faster as being a problem. Suddenly, I had a problem.

The problem was me wanting something to fix, even though there was nothing broken.

Lesson learned.

Today, I went out in the yard, with 12 poles, a couple jumps and Oreo's favorite ball. No clicker, no treats, no random rewards. Here's a video.

I think you'll see what you all knew anyway.

My dog thanks you for setting me straight.

Playtime is soooooo much better than training.

Greg said that his border collie, Skye, does the poles in 2.5 seconds! Impressive! Of course, now I will be timing Oreo's weaves. Watching the video, I figured Oreo was doing them in about 4 seconds (my hip Dad will double check, he doesn't go anywhere without a stopwatch). Not too shabby, especially since the grass was wet, and covered with some leaves already. Oreo did slip a bit in that first pass.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

tricky t-day - dressy bessy

Sorry if I disappoint anyone, but it was such a busy, crazy week I couldn't get a video together for tricky t-day. We are working on some new tricks. Hopefully, I'll be able to post one next week.

However, a couple times this week I felt as though I myself was doing my own tricks, just getting dressed.

Lately, the pants I buy have more than just a zipper and a button. They often have a zipper, button, and an inner button or more!
One pair, I wore this week for parent/teacher orientation, had a zipper, button, inner button, and two hook/eye like contraptions, that I first had to slide under a belt loop. Add a regular belt to that, and it gets down right time consuming.

Every time I use the restroom at work, I feel like I'm a life size Dressy Bessy doll. I don't have time for all these contraptions. I only have 5 minutes between classes. Are all these fasteners really necessary?

I'm sure I am being charged extra for these "quality" notions, because it takes longer to add these details. Some might argue it makes the pants look nicer, and hang better, yadda, yadda, yadda.
Yes, the pants are beautiful. They fit well. I like them a lot. Yet, the buttons, hooks, eyes, zippers, etc. still drive me nuts!

I do all my clothes shopping online. The descriptions tell you color, material, dimensions, and sometimes will say, "button closure". However, I have never read one that says, "quadruple fasteners".

I'm sure I would be less likely to buy the item if I knew I would be spending precious moments of my day zippering, buttoning, looping, sliding, snapping, and hooking myself together. I'm going to school, not off to war. (OK, some days body armor might not be a bad idea, but most days a regular pair of pants is just fine) .

Yes, I loved my Dressy Bessy doll as a kid, but I think I've learned how to zip, tie, snap and button by now. I don't need anymore practice. Just one or two fasteners is sufficient!

Did anyone else have Dressy Bessy?

Monday, September 28, 2009


At the end of our seminar, people were asking various questions. Someone stated that their dog starts out slow in the weaves, but speeds up toward the end. Oreo does this a lot too.

The instructor said that's because the dog knows it is getting closer to the reward at the end. She said you need to vary which pole you reward after. Click and treat after pole 2, after pole 4, after pole 8 and so on.

Huh. Never thought of that. I would have thought that would make the dog pop out of the poles. I guess if you make it random enough, you won't create a pop out problem.

Also, I always wondered "why does Oreo weave so fast at home, but not at school?" Someone else asked the same question.

The instructor said that the dogs don't see the similarity in the equipment the way we do. It is almost like they are learning a whole new obstacle.

That may explain why Oreo was suddenly weaving fast in class a couple weeks ago. He could have finally learned how to weave on the school's poles, which are nothing like mine at home.

Here is a video I shot last weekend of Oreo weaving. He is slow in the beginning, then speeds up toward the end.

We're going to work on random rewards this week and see if we can improve. I'll post a new video later with our results.

She also said you shouldn't practice weaves without an obstacle beforehand. It isn't helping them learn their entries. She suggested starting with the obstacle far away from the poles and gradually move it closer.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Due to rain, our seminar was held in the building today. Major bummer. I really wanted to be outside, where Oreo has been practicing, and excelling the past few weeks.

There were 13 people taking the seminar, and the area where people sit is small. Unfortunately, it was in extreme close proximity to the startline of all our morning exercises. Within a foot. I immediately knew this would cause Oreo to stress.

And that is how the day began. We started with a full sequence. Oreo skipped a few obstacles, and missed an obstacle discrimination (which most dogs did). He was a bit nervous.

After our run, the instructor told me I was causing my dog to stress by the way I was handling him. I needed to run the course in a way that would put myself between my dog and the people. I told her that I try and do that as often as possible in trials.

She said that I should always do it. That is the only way I will build confidence in my dog. I must either get between them, or pull him away from the crowd.

She also asked if Oreo knew any tricks.

Yea. A couple. Maybe 5. Or 50.

She said at trials I should have him do tricks, as soon as I get him out of his crate, to get him focused on me.

All these things I kind of do. But it was good to be reminded of their importance and reinforced, because I don't do them consistently as I could.

We struggled through the sets she had set up. Mostly due to Oreo's stress level I think. I knew the skills we were doing weren't necessarily the problem. We had done similar stuff in class a couple weeks earlier. He did better than I thought he would, considering we were inside.

The set we did where we finally head away from the people, Oreo did great.

Unfortunately, that was his last. He refused to come out of his crate after that. He was tired. That was a bummer, because the rest of the exercises were at the back of the building, away from the people.

The instructor let me run her Jack Russell. I did that once. It was a serpentine sequence. He missed one jump. She was talking about the sequence later, and said that she trained her dogs to do serpentines, and they do them automatically, so she doesn't know why her dog missed the jump when I ran him.

I said, "I must suck as a handler."

Next time, I decided to run Misty!

At least then, if I messed up I wouldn't feel so bad. Misty did it twice, and for her first time doing agility in public in months, I thought she did great. She missed a couple jumps, but I don't aim for perfection. The instructor said, "That's enough for her."

The next sequence I ran one of my teacher's dog. I had run her on Labor Day, and we had done OK together.

I ran the sequence twice, and she was slow both times, and missed the same jump twice. I asked, "Is it me?"

The instructor said, "No. This isn't a good dog for you."

Someone else ran the dog, and the dog ran the same way. I thought the dog was just tired. She was soaking wet from playing in the rain. I had been feeding her treats before our run, and just before I brought her in, I could see her interest in treats waning.

Within a few minutes after her turn, she was falling asleep in her Dad's arms.

I just watched the rest of the seminar.

Overall, it was a long day for me and my dogs. Although Oreo was stressed, he was less stressed than he would have been 6 months ago. He put his nose on a stranger's palm, and also put his nose on my teacher's palm. This was with many people and dogs in close proximity. Some progress. I was happy with what he did today.

Now, I'm looking forward to our nice, short, relaxed classes. I think I was a bit stressed myself today. At seminars, I feel like everyone is watching/analyzing you. I don't feel quite as comfortable as I do in my class, where I know everyone and what to expect. Maybe Oreo sensed some of that as well.

polish pooch

We went to the Polish Fest Saturday at a local church. After filling up on kielbasa, pierogis, and potato pancakes, we went inside to look at some things for sale. I saw this bandanna:

I always wanted to get a bandanna for Oreo, and thought this one was cute, being that I'm 3/4ths Polish. But, I thought it was too expensive. Jeff surprised me and bought it while I was looking at another table. Guess the money he saved dumpster diving made the price not seem so bad.

Back at home, the minute I took the bandanna out of the bag, Oreo was jumping up and down. How did he know it was for him?

He wanted it! I put it around his neck, and he got even more excited!

Maybe next year they will have one that says "Crazy Polish Pooch". Who knew a bandanna could get a dog so excited.

Too bad Planet Dog doesn't make a red & white orbee ball to go with his bandanna. As soon as the grass dies, we'll switch back to Oreo's more manly blue/green version. That one is too hard to find in the grass, that's why we use pink in the summer. Maybe we should use the glow in the dark one with the orange continents. That would match his bandanna best.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

dumpster diving

Jeff sold a remote control airplane on EBay. He no longer has the box it came in. So, he went to the UPS store, where they sell you a box, pack and ship your item.

When he walked in, Jeff asked the clerk how much it was going to cost. The clerk said, "We'll have to see."

The clerk proceeded to pack the plane in a box, adding peanuts and such. Then, he gave Jeff the price to ship the plane to Miami. $75.

Jeff said, "I'm sorry, but you're going to have to unpack it. I'm not paying that much."

My, ever resourceful, husband goes to the adjacent Walmart.

No, he does not go in the store to buy a box.

He goes dumpster diving.

When Jeff comes home, he shows me this fabulous box he found in Walmart's dumpster. Perfect size.

Then, he explains, the box was for some sort of battery display.

I was wondering how he knew what the box had been used for.

He complained, "Now, look what I have to get rid of."

In his truck, and our garage, are pieces of an actual battery display. Including instructions on how to assemble it.

Looks to me like the store never bothered to put it together.

I told Jeff, "I bet they couldn't figure out how to assemble it, that's why they threw it out. Maybe they would pay you to assemble it."

He said, "They should pay me for getting rid of their garbage. I just cleaned out our basement, now I have to get rid of Walmart's garbage."

Well, I guess that's what you get for dumpster diving.

At this point, I could not stop laughing. It's not everyday you see Walmart display cases at your home. Has it ever happened at your house?

Jeff said, "Here let me arrange all this stuff for you. I know you're dying to take a picture of it, and put it on your blog."

(he's such a good sport)

Jeff told me, "You would not believe the great things you'd find in that dumpster. If you had a big truck, you could really make out well there. There's office furniture and building supplies...."

Later, Jeff finished packing the plane up himself, and printed a UPS label out online.


Anyone want to buy a battery display?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

when numbers aren't important

Oreo rocked another agility class last night, even though it felt like it was summer again with the warm temperatures. Oreo was fast and on task. He only seemed hesitant at one tunnel entrance, and did one stop to look around on top of the A-Frame. I might stop to look around myself up there. I'm sure it's a gorgeous view! Oh, he also freaked a bit when the trucks, harvesting the corn, drove right by the ring! I thought it was cool, Oreo not so much.

We had some hard sequences last night. Two pinwheels, that overlapped somehow, had me all confused. I don't think I ran a course correctly all night. I really, really need to come up with a way to memorize courses that works for me. I am not a visual learner, and my memorization skills are poor.

You would think, as a special education teacher, I'd have come up with a strategy by now! I think I just haven't put forth the effort, since our trial maps have been so easy in the beginner levels. Time to put an individual education plan in place for myself.

On our last run, I messed up again. I got lost. Oreo didn't. He followed me. My teacher asked if I wanted to run any part again.

I said, "No. Oreo ran fast and was happy. That's all I care about."

She said, "Sometimes the numbers aren't important."

I agree.
Side ways tongue, after first run!
watching the other dogs run
I just couldn't get a cute photo of both dogs at the same time!
We have an all day agility seminar on Sunday. I hope Oreo is acting this enthusiastic that day!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

dogs & slippers

Why do dogs always want to sleep by your slippers?

Munchkin.... my sweet, sweet boy

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

tricky t-day ~ bang you're dead

The other day, I taught Misty the "bang you're dead" trick. She learned it in two seconds.

I had tried to teach it to her before, but she wouldn't budge. I thought she must be getting better at learning.

I couldn't wait to show Jeff when he got home.

Before I demonstrated, I told him, "The only thing is, I have to hold the gun to her head."

He watched, laughed and said, "She's not doing a trick, she's trying to get away from your finger."

He was probably right. She hates things hovering over her head.

Poor dog.

I tried it the next day without physical contact, and Misty very dramatically rolled to her side. She really is quite charming doing the "bang" trick.

Therefore, this week's tricky t-day video features Misty! I threw in Oreo doing his version of "bang" too. I'm still using the clicker with him on this trick, since he doesn't like to put his head down at the end. I'm clicking for him putting his head on the ground and holding it there a second.

However, he's working on playing dead right now too, and I'm hoping to combine the two tricks soon for a much more dramatic effect. Play dead is tough if your dog already knows "roll over", because he wants to keep going. Maybe next week we'll be ready. Or not.

Any time Misty learns something new I get so excited. I expect it from Oreo, he's my over achiever, but not from her.

It was a little bit difficult to get them to focus on doing tricks when I shot this video. While I was setting up the camera, Oreo nosed his way into my treat bag (which I stupidly had left open on the floor) and I caught him red handed (nosed?) gobbling up the treats. The whole time we were doing the tricks, they were both obsessed with the treat bag.

Monday, September 21, 2009

over the moon

Oreo found one of his old favorite toys, the moon, the other morning, and started tearing it apart. Again! I've sewed the dollar store moon back together countless times.

Once I turned the camera on Oreo stopped his antics, and Misty stole the show.

This video qualifies for my "everyday dog activities series". Which means it is a video of my dogs just being themselves. I highly recommend making some videos like this of your own dogs. How I wish I had some of Munchman.

Misty rarely plays with toys anymore. Therefore, I was especially excited to witness and catch this on video. It really is a video for me, but I'm sharing it with the world anyway! That's what we do these days, isn't it?

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how Jeff blew up a bunch of tools. Well, he has replaced most of them. Since he was on a buying spree, he bought a few extras too. Including a lathe.

Silly me, thought Jeff was going to use the lathe to make legs for a new coffee table that we desperately need. The corners of our current one were all gnawed away by Oreo when he was a puppy.

Well, apparently you can buy table legs premade at big box home supply stores.

For now, the lathe is being used to make homemade wooden pens.

Yes, they are cool & beautiful, but I can't really put my feet up on them can I? And can't you buy pens premade at Staples?


Oh well. He's having fun creating them. That's what counts. Now, if he would make a gel pen, I'd get excited. I'm a gel pen connoisseur.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

more 270 work

Friday night, I set up 3 jumps, and later a tunnel to do some more 270 practice. Oreo is getting good at reading my palm up and listening for my "out" cue. Even when my hand cue was wrong, he still went on verbal cue. My teacher had mentioned in class last week, when we had a long stretch of grass between a jump and the dogwalk, that Oreo was running a bit aimlessly until I said "walk it". Then, he got focused immediately.

I need to keep that in mind. Oreo likes me to talk to him, and clearly knows the meaning of words. I think all the time we spend training tricks has helped encourage his vocabulary.

Ha! Sounds like I'm talking about one of my students, not a dog! Let's see, I'd put his knowledge of vocabulary at a 3:5 Grade Equivalent.

In class on Wednesday, my teacher had me see if Oreo could find the tunnel entrance with me behind a curved tunnel. He did so with no problem. I set it up at home, but I don't think I curved the tunnel enough to make it as challenging as it was in class.

We had some distractions to work with in the yard. My neighbor's dog was randomly running by, which usually sends Oreo running back in the house. Plus, they were chopping down a tree. I was proud of Oreo for being able to focus on me through a lot of that.

I call this video "monkey in the middle". I'm the monkey! The one standing in the middle, flapping her arms about!

You just have to go watch the video of our friend, Honey the Great Dane's, first swimming lesson. Make sure you watch until the end. It is priceless.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

for my hip dad

I began to get concerned that my "hip dad", aka my real dad, may be feeling slighted that I gave my other DAD a special post!

So here's a photo for you dad! I have a copy for you too, that you can bring to your office. I thought it showed what little athleticism I have, and was a good photo of Oreo too.

Maybe it will provide some inspiration while you're recovering from your surgery. Not that you'll need it. You'll still be in better shape than all of us. From the neck down that is.

Friday, September 18, 2009

who is this dog?

Who is this dog?

That's what I was thinking at agility class Wednesday night.

I put Oreo and Misty in their playpen to go walk the course. When I came back, Oreo was hopping up and down, trying to get out. He never does that.

Who is this dog?

Oreo was more confident and speedy than I've seen him in a long time. In fact, he did the weave poles faster than I've ever seen him do them in public! He may have even done the two front foot hop thing toward the end once.

Who is this dog?

The amazing part was there was another class going on in the adjacent ring. The sheep were on the lawn. There were plenty of distractions. Oreo did turn and look, but still kept up his speed, and didn't seem nervous or worried, more curious.

Who is this dog?

I had to adjust my handling. The places I thought I'd be able to front cross, I couldn't, because he was going so fast.

Who is this dog?

Is it the cooler weather? Is his confidence finally growing? Is it due to the fact that he is getting more rest now that I am back at work?

Who is this dog?

He's my dog. And he is awesome!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

sending smiles

Especially for Dad in Tennesse:
Misty & Oreo wanted to send you a smile this morning, whether you needed it or not! We know you get up and have your coffee early, so we scheduled it to post before we went to bed last night!

Maybe we should have put some tomatoes in that basket.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tricky T-day - "out"

Going back to work as been an adjustment. I'm Tired!

Not much time to do much training, and when we do, I've been working on agility stuff. Oreo needs to burn off some energy.

I thought I'd put together a video of how I've been teaching Oreo his "out" command. He needs this in agility when a course requires us to take the back side of a jump, not the side that is head on. Tricky....

As I wrote in a previous post, I've been teaching Oreo to go "out" around various stuff. However, I can't use any objects that he can jump in or on, because that is what he will focus on doing! I send him using both arms, so he learns to go both directions. I am also trying to remember to hold my palm up, as an additional cue.

Then, I bring out the agility equipment, and try out some jumps. It seems to be working for us.

Here is our silliness:

I think we should change tricky t-day to silly s-day.

Monday, September 14, 2009

lot of nothing

Did a lot of nothing on Sunday. Just what I needed. Here's what the dogs did:
Munched on stuff in the dog garden.

posed for treats

Had a race!

Hope everyone had a good weekend!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

backyard practice

After doing lots of paperwork for school on Saturday morning, I set up our agility class sequence in the yard. I think it took longer to set up than to run!

For the past few days, I had been practicing our new "out" command with Oreo on the flat.

"Out" will mean he needs to go around something and come back toward me. In agility, he needs to take the back side of a jump, to do a 270. I've been sending him "out" around various objects...the tripod, garden statues, cushions, jump poles, name it.

It seems to have paid off. When, I said "out" during this sequence, even though my body language wasn't the best, Oreo still did his job.

Misty got out to play too. She did well, her confidence is slowly growing, although she is very sensitive to any slight movements I make. I think Misty gets bored of this quick, and prefers to get back to her lookout point (her real job), but doesn't want to miss out on any treats.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

puzzler & some distance

Below is the first sequence we did in agility class this week. It is called "puzzler", from Bud Houston's blog. Oreo and I did really well, until we got to the 270 from jump 9 to 10. We really need to work on those at home.

My teacher had me get Oreo's ball. I ran jumps 8 & 9, and then threw the ball past jump ten, in the direction Oreo needed to go. Unfortunately, Oreo didn't actually get the ball, but he did habitually move toward it. We did that three or four times. Then, I ran the sequence again without the ball, and Oreo did the whole sequence beautifully!

Were we done? No! My teacher said, "Now do the sequence without using your arms!"

What? Run without using my arms?

OK. I'm trying to believe in myself and my dog more....confidence. I tried it, and lo and behold, we did the whole sequence, without me using my arms, except at the 270.

It is amazing how much you can do with you feet and shoulders! I was impressed. I'm going to try and set up 1-11 at home and practice some more this weekend.

Next up....distance work! Yea! After Q'ing our jackpot run, I'm much more confident about trying distance stuff.

This sequence was harder than our trial. It involved turning into a jump, as well as layering (having a jump in between me and the obstacle the dog is doing). My kind teacher swapped the teeter for a tunnel, and then we only did the #6 jump, not the #5 tunnel, although she angled the jump.

My teacher said, "Have faith in your dog, I bet he'll do it."

Yes, I thought. That's what I need to do.

Our first try, didn't go so well. Oreo took jump 2 & that was it. However, I didn't lose faith. It was our first time in that particular ring that evening. Oreo usually needs some time to get oriented, and I probably rushed into it before he was comfortable.

My teacher told me to extend both arms toward jump 3 to reinforce what I wanted him to do. I also did a few jumps before we got to 2, that you can't see on the diagram. I wanted to get some movement going.

Well, Oreo went over jump 2, I extended both arms and he went to jump 3! Yes! He started to come back toward me, but I kept my arms out and said, "TUNNEL"! Oreo went shooting into that tunnel, and I cheered! It was so exciting, I almost forgot what I was doing. Luckily, I made it to the end of the tunnel just as Oreo was coming out, and got him over the last jumps. Big reward!

One of my classmates said, "Either he really knows what the word tunnel means, or he really understands your hand cues, because he was totally coming back to you before that tunnel."

Whatever it was, worked! Oreo also was running really fast, and we were heading toward the parking area. Usually that causes anxiety for him. He feels more comfortable running toward the woods. It was quite thrilling.

My teacher asked if I wanted to try it again.

Nope. We were done for the night. I love to leave on a high point like that.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

losing momentum

I've noticed in class and at our run thrus on Monday, that when I have to stop to get Oreo to execute some jumps, we run into problems. If I stop, Oreo loses momentum, whether it is due to confidence, my handling, or other issues I haven't figured out yet. I think he doesn't understand why I'm stopping, and really doesn't like it at all.

I set up the first 4 obstacles in the jumpers course we did on Monday (it is definitely not an exact replica, my memory is not that great). It was a tough course. I must have walked it ten times. We lost momentum on the third jump in.

He didn't lose as much momentum at home though. However, once I added the tunnel, he kept sucking right into the tunnel. He would never have done that at school (at least he never has). Apparently we have different issues at home than we do at the field.

Isn't that great?

I did see a lot of errors in my handling while watching the videos! I needed to move toward the third jump earlier. I might need to think more about where my feet are, like Diana has to do with Miley. I rely a lot on my arms, which were a mess, but Oreo is so close to me, how can he even see my arms half the time? Perhaps doing agility in flip flops is also a bad idea. It's not like I don't own many pairs of sneakers. But that would mean I would have to put on socks, and actually TIE my shoes. Work.

We had a great agility class last night. I'll post more about that later.

School starts today! Yea! I love the first day of school. Just don't ask me how I'm feeling on the 78th day of school, it might be a different story! LOL.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tricky T-Day ~ Human Hurdle

I was doing some "free timin'" with Oreo, holding my leg up, seeing what he would do. One time, he jumped right over my leg. I clicked and gave him a jackpot. I thought it was so great, it should be our tricky t-day trick. I went in the house to get the video camera.

Well, Oreo just wouldn't repeat the trick, and my leg was really starting to hurt.

I remember our gym teachers making us do a similar "warm up" exercise, holding our leg up while they counted to ten, and all the girls in my class would be screaming in pain. I never understood why their legs hurt so bad; my legs were accustomed to the position from gymnastics. At the time, I could've held my leg in the air for an hour.

Now I understand.

I was forced to change my position, and Oreo came up with a cool trick that I think would be fun in a dance routine too.

Sorry, the video is a bit longer than I like to publish, but I didn't want to disappoint Misty's ever growing fan club. Misty joined in the fun, to the best of her ability, proving that this isn't a hard trick to learn. She learned just by watching Oreo....I taught her nothing. She just did it with a slight hand lure.

Here is a video, with a bit of the process and our laughable results! In some parts, Oreo looks more like a kangaroo than a dog.

After learning this trick, I consulted our trick book to see how the author suggested teaching it to your dog. She said to introduce this trick to your dog in a hallway. That way the dog can't go around your leg.

Really, I don't think you need to be that regimented. If your dog is into doing tricks at the moment, he/she will figure it out without having to feel trapped.

Misty (and Oreo) are in a "not so tricky" contest. If you'd like to vote for Misty click here. She's number 11.

I felt silly voting for my own dogs, so I voted for Katie, Ricky & Honey ~ all fellow tricky t-day players, and good blogger buddies. Good luck to them!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Last Day of Summer Vacation

I spent my last day of summer vacation doing agility! Surprised?

My teacher invited people to her farm for "fun thrus" ~ all you could do run thrus plus lunch for fifteen bucks. How could you pass that up?

I thought it would be good for Oreo to do some courses, with distractions, and be able to get treats on the course.

Oreo and I ran two standard and two jumpers courses. All 4 were much more difficult than the courses we've been doing in trials. That made it fun, because I was able to see what Oreo could do, and what we need to work on. We made a few off course at a dogwalk/tunnel discrimination, a missed jump here and there, and once I got completely lost on the jumpers course! It was a good experience for both of us.

I also got to run one of my teacher's border collies. That was fun. She's not a super high drive collie, but she goes pretty fast. She went around the teeter, and I just let that slide and went onto the next obstacle. I wasn't sure if she was a teeter hater. At one point, she saw her mom way across the field and ran across to say hello! However, she did come back to me, I gave her some cheese, and we were able to do a few more obstacles to complete the course.

Overall, it was a great way to spend my last day of freedom.

After lunch, I came home to get myself into "work mode". Ironing clothes! Ugh! Packing my school bag. Thinking about making bag lunches. Setting my alarm clock.

Plus, I gave the dogs a bath. Both were smelling not so pretty.

Back to reality tomorrow. I see the kids on Thursday. That will be a good day.

a day in the life

A day in the life of my the backyard.

Oreo looks innocent now....if I take one step closer, he will snatch up that ball and the chase will be on!


Misty digs herself a hole in the pebble path. The hole gets bigger and bigger as the summer goes on. I guess she is searching for cooler ground? Or is she digging to China?

Misty steals ( & enjoys) Oreo's bone!

Disgruntled Oreo watches nonstop, for a chance to steal it back! Of course there is a brand new, untouched bone nearby. Both dogs want the slimy, dirty one.

Double dog tail raise! They must see the neighbors dog, or a squirrel, or a leaf blowing in the wind. Something that must be barked at and scared away immediately!

It's a good life.

Wishing everyone a happy, restful, safe Labor Day!

Friday, September 4, 2009

never a dull moment

Jeff has a bunch off outdoor projects on his ever expanding "to do" list.

Last weekend, Jeff was working on a project, cutting up some wood. He burned out one saw. He tried another saw, that one broke too. He went to the garage to get a third, but remembered he had burned that one out previously and had never replaced it.

That project will have to wait. Good thing home depot is running a sale right more, save more, on power tools. Looks like we'll be buying "more".

Frustrated, Jeff decides he needs to accomplish SOMETHING on his day off (funny, because I've had over 60 consecutive days off and felt no desire to accomplish anything).

Jeff gets out the pressure washer to clean the house.

He cleans two sides of the house. Then, I hear some mumbling and grumbling and banging.

I go outside and ask what's up.

Well, now he's blown up the pressure washer.

For the record, that's two power saws and a pressure washer in one day. This was a costly day off. Maybe Jeff should have gone to work, or just sat around and relaxed.

Yesterday, we bought a new pressure washer. I was "helping" Jeff hook it up (actually he was begging me to please go inside and stop watching him). Just before I left, I warned him, "The hose reel has a kink in it, you have to pull it away from the wall to get the kink out, otherwise you don't get good water pressure." I use the hose to water my plants, so I should know.

Jeff looks at me in disbelief. Drops his shoulders. Rolls his eyes up.

Uh oh. What's wrong now?

"A kink? Well, that's why the other pressure washer blew up. It wasn't getting any water. The motor burns out if it doesn't have water. That was a $100 kink."


Jeff walks over to the hose reel, flips it completely over, and voila! The kink is gone!

Who knew it was that easy? I was in awe of his genius.

He asked, "The thought never occured to you to flip the reel over to get the kink out?"

Ummmm, nope, and that kink has been annoying me all summer.

Later that night, Jeff was cooking dinner. He put a bag of rice in the microwave. One of those 90 second uncle ben mixes.

We hear a loud POP. Really loud. Scary loud.

"What the hell was that?" Jeff asks.

I'm afraid to look at the microwave, because I'm convinced it will be engulfed in flames.

I said, "Did you open the bag before you put it in the microwave?"

"No, was I supposed to?"

We both look at the microwave.

Jeff says, "Well, looks like the bag is open now."

Ah, life with Jeff. Never a dull moment.

At least he didn't blow up the microwave. It still works.

tunnel fun

Last night after dinner, I went out with Oreo to play ball like usual. He picked up his ball, but once we were outside, he didn't show all that much interest in playing.

Oh well, I thought maybe he was tired.

I went to put his ball in his toy box, and saw a new tug toy (actually a replacement of one he had previously shredded to tiny bits). It has been sitting on the top of his toybox for at least a month. Oreo hasn't even noticed it. However, when I picked it up today, Oreo lunged at it and started jumping around like a crazy dog. I was shocked.

It was as though he was saying, "Where have you been hiding this fabulous toy? This is the best toy ever! I love it! I love you! This is Great! Let's go! Let's Go! Let's Go!"

OK. I thought, with this enthusiasm, I'm going to throw in some agility stuff.

Inspired by Honey's triumph over the chute, I pulled out our tunnel/chute and a tunnel, and just ran Oreo through those. I also threw in our new startline routine a couple times. Spin right/spin left....Go.

Oreo had a lot of fun. I like this going back to basics stuff.

It is funny, whenever Oreo wants to play he usually picks up either his orbee or his planet dog softball. So, I assume those are the toys he wants to play with. But the past few days, when I pulled a different toy out of the box, he got super excited. I am going to have to try and do that more often.

If I can dredge up this enthusiasm tonight....I think we'll work on the on the teeter.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

what I learned

I went to agility class last night. Boy did it get dark quick. I don't think we'll be having many more outdoor classes.

My teacher set up the "back to school" exercise from It was really fun, and challenging. We got to practice all sorts of handling moves. We did the first 3 sequences.

My first turn, Oreo did a "line up" all on his own, but then was distracted by someone getting their dog out of their car. I decided to wait for eye contact. I waited, and waited..... Never got eye contact, so I just started running. Oreo never really connected with me, went around obstacles and kept looking toward the parking lot. I stopped running, and happily brought him back to the startline.

I started over with what we usually do...more of a drop and go...or a run together. It went much better. With each consecutive run, Oreo's concentration improved, and with that his speed & confidence. He did the occasional glance at my teacher, or dog barking on the hill, but no off courses, or stopping.

I also tried doing a couple tricks on the startline, then did a running start. That worked really well. We did...spin right, spin left, beg, GO! I wonder if he would do that in a trial. That might be a good way to start, especially with just the two spins. I know I really need to pick something and stick with it.

What did I learn last night? I cannot ask Oreo to do a startline stay. It stresses him too much. The less time he spends on the startline, the better.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

back to the beginning

Yesterday morning, I pulled a toy out of Oreo's toy box that we haven't played with in a long time. I realized it was the toy I had used to teach Oreo the weave poles.

It got me thinking about how we started out in agility. Playing agility in the backyard. No classes. No rules. No technique. No criteria. Just playing a game. We may have been doing it all the wrong way, but oh, what fun we had.

Were we still playing now? I couldn't remember the last time we did agility with a toy.

As a teacher, I think sometimes it pays to go back to the beginning. I can't tell you how my high school students' faces light up if I give them some of that thick lined paper from first grade, and let them practice their handwriting, or a whole page of easy addition and subtraction problems. They love it. A sense of nostalgia, it's easy, and they know they will be successful! It provides a good break from a stressful assignment.

The past few days, the weather has been great. Cool and crisp. Even Misty has been more playful. She loves winter!

So, I pulled out a few jumps, a tunnel, and brought the "weave pole toy" outside to see how Oreo would react to a "game of agility". Back to the beginning.

No training. No specific sequence. No startline routine. No verbal commands. Just run, play, fun. We made lots of mistakes, broke some rules... it was a blast. Oreo LOVED it.

I went inside to get the video camera, which usually gets Oreo in the "oh, it's time to get serious, we're working for treats" mode. But this time, he still wanted that toy! He wanted to keep playing.

This reassured me that Oreo does love the game of agility. Hopefully, with time, Oreo will be comfortable enough in a trial setting to display some of this joy!

For now, we'll keep on playing in the yard.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

trial photos

Here are the photos from our trial on Saturday. Dottie got a great photo us after our jackpot run. I was so happy, and it shows! I didn't even know she was taking that photo, though it looks posed.

fullhouse - rain run




Overall, I think Oreo looks less stressed in these photos than he did at the July trial. No tongue flicking at all that I noticed. A few where he's looking to the side though.

a dog year

For anyone who has HBO, one of my favorite books, A Dog Year, by Jon Katz, has been made into a movie(click to see preview). I've been waiting and waiting for it to be aired.

Finally, it will be on HBO on September 3. I'm sure it will come out on DVD at some point. Most of those HBO movies do, but I couldn't take the risk and miss it. I signed up for HBO this month just so I could watch the movie! That's how much I want to see it. I've read the book at least 5 times. It's always good for a laugh, or a good cry.

I was lucky enough to have my copy of the book signed by the author. He lives locally, and does several readings a year.

This book ultimately led me to Oreo. I fell in love with the dog on the cover, and longed for a black and white dog with intense brown eyes. When I saw 3 sheltie puppies, two sable color, and one tiny black & white one, I thought....that's my dog. Thanks Mr. Katz.

Tricky T-day - A Start

A couple Tricky T-days ago, Honey did a great post on how to choreograph a canine freestyle routine. It was all outlined, step by step! The instructions were so great, I wanted to get started right away.

Step 1 was to choose a song! Done! I am now starting to get ideas of moves I'd like to put into the song.

I also got some ideas from Ludo's last tricky t-day post. Ludo's mom was doing a spin herself, while Ludo was rolling over. I thought, why don't I try and spin around while Oreo and Misty spin around. Also, Ludo's mom was asking Ludo to cross his paws while she was crossing her feet. I tried that with Oreo, and he did it! Of course, he is quite OCD about the cross paws trick. He takes it VERY seriously.

Here's a video of some of the moves we've been working on. It will be awhile before we will be able to show them with the music I've selected (think I'll keep that a secret for now!). I want to get Oreo accustomed to stringing together a few tricks before being rewarded. We have a long way to go. My moves were a little rigid. I didn't have any music playing in the background to get me to dance!