Thursday, April 30, 2009
There was only one other dog there, a sheltie. How cute!
My teacher set up a level 3 CPE course. Oreo did really well. Our only problem was the weave poles, which was unusual for us. Oreo has always been so consistent with his weaving. However, the past few weeks in class (and home) we've only been doing 6. Last night there were 12, and Oreo kept popping out. I kept bending down, and becoming more exaggerated with my handling. I'm sure that exacerbated the problem.
My teacher told me, what everyone else always tells me, stand up straight! Why don't I listen?
So, today in the backyard, I did some more practice, and Oreo did fine with the weaves. In the trial, we will only have to do 6 poles.
I plan on doing no agility tomorrow. Just play ball and tricks. It is supposed to rain anyway.
I left class feeling good. Oreo seemed to have a blast running his butt off. I know I did. He is so much fun to run these courses with.
I am not nervous about his ability to do any agility aspect of the trial, it is all the distractions I am concerned about.
Here's a video of our backyard practice today:
Isn't Misty looking peppier now that the weather has cooled? Maybe it was all the chicken she got for her birthday!
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Well, our vet got a new computer system last year. This past Fall, when they printed out Misty's new rabies tag, it had her actual birthdate on it, April 29.
All these years, Misty was 28 days younger than we thought!
Cool thing is, I was born on the 29th too. The 29th of March.
Anyway, here is a photo montage of Misty this past year. Boy, did I have a lot of photos to rummage through. I must have had close to 500-600 photos, and that doesn't include all the ones in my recycle bin.
What a year it has been for Misty! Going to school, learning new tricks, keeping up with her younger sibling, surviving a historic ice storm...
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
In their garden grow wild myrtle, forget me nots, coneflowers, black eyed susans, and wild flowers. I don't tend to the area much, but it is pretty and cool. I've installed a path there for the dogs, since they were already making their own path anyway.
The hot weather has started to turn things green, blue and yellow around here. So, here are the dogs in their spring garden.
For all of you who made comments about my jumps looking "high", they are set at 12 inches, which is what Oreo will be jumping in his trial this weekend. In some venues, he would have to jump 16 inches! That seems really high!
I usually have Misty jump with the small dogs in her class at 8 inches. So, I probably should have lowered the jumps for her, especially since it has been so hot.
I think I may have Jeff score the PVC at 8 and 12 inches, that way I can move the jump cups between those two positions for when I am working Misty, or when it is especially hot. I'd use a sharpie, but I think that would just wear off.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Poor Oreo, has to work with shoddy equipment.
I put Misty inside while I worked with Oreo. Then, brought Misty out for her own exercise. My plan was to have Oreo do a stay on the table. You'll see how well that went. I did let Oreo try out Misty's sequence, and boy does that dog love to jump.
I still think it was too hot for Misty. I was sweating. I came inside for water, and Jeff said, "What are you working out or something?"
I never "work out", so I don't know why he said that, must have been my appearance.
My neighbor apologized for the jackhammering, and said he was all done. He said, "Sorry about the noise for the last few weeks."
Well, when he was apologizing, Misty was barking her head off at him.
So, I had to say, "No problem, sorry for the constant noise from my dog!"
Sometimes it is better to be neighborly.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
I decided we just won't turn the heat back on! Even though I know it will be in the thirties again before we know it.
You know it is hot when the dogs nap on the hardwood floor, or Oreo's favorite - the bathroom tile next to the toilet.
Hoping to get out and do some agility later this evening when the sun drops a bit. That is if my neighbor is done jack hammering his front step. Boy, that is an annoying noise! I've only been listening to it for three weekends now. Jeff thinks a few sticks of dynamite would have been more effective and much more fun!
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Our classes were held outside today. On the course, Oreo took about a minute to get oriented to me, but this week he did not go running around the course randomly. He stayed close by and just looked around. Improvement! Big improvement.
Once Oreo got going he did great! We did 20 obstacle sequences. I think we did at least three courses. We missed a few obstacles each time, but for the most part Oreo was spot on. I made sure to reward more often than I usually would indoors, and I think that really helped.
Here he is watching, and waiting for his turn:
Misty had a hard time dealing with the heat. The sun was almost directly over head for her class. We started with a jump sequence, and she really wasn't into it. Then, she went and peed on the course. A big no, no, but a bunch of other dogs went in the same spot.
By the end of class, all the dogs were panting (and the humans were dripping), so my teacher slowed things down and let the dogs try the full size dogwalk for the first time. The indoor one is not regulation. This one is much higher.
Misty was really tentative the first go round. I was really nervous she was going to bail on the top, so I gave her lots of treats to lure her. Then, she was acting like she had to pee again. So, I brought her out of the ring, where she peed and pooped. I brought her back to the dogwalk and she practically ran across it! Then hit her target like she had been doing the dogwalk for years.
Amazing how much better a dog can feel after they poop!
After Misty's class, I brought Oreo back out on the course. He had been whining and crying a bit in his crate, so I thought he might want to do some more. He did. I was really happy, because there were other dogs and people still in the ring practicing, and he was able to focus on me.
I've been doing running contacts with him in class, even though we work on targets at home. After Misty's class, there was a target on the ground at the end of the dogwalk. Well, Oreo must have seen it, because when I was trying to send him over a jump after the dogwalk, Oreo was stopped in the 2o/2o position, both paws on the target at the end of the dogwalk. He was not going to move until I said, "GO".
I swear sometimes Oreo is training me, not the other way around. Clearly, I was not following the rules of the game, and he was not happy about it. Silly me.
I left feeling much more confident about our trial next weekend. Still, I am going in with minimal expectations. I just want it to be a positive experience. DOCNA allows training in the ring, but if Oreo misses an obstacle, I will just keep going, rather than go back.
While we were having our classes, a baby cow was born at the farm. I had to stop and take a look before leaving. Here he/she is just a couple hours old.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Before I could even get the cover on, Oreo was already laying down on the new bed. Guess he likes it. How do you think the dogs know it is for them?
Oh that's right, this is not my home, it is the dogs' castle!
Thursday, April 23, 2009
I took a video of an exercise Oreo and I worked on. Again, I see that Misty being out with us is really not a good thing. I should have taken Lian's advice and put her in a crate. She became another obstacle in the sequence!
Funny, before I taught Misty agility, she never got in the way......
I don't like how I am still bending over when Oreo is weaving. I need to remember not to do that.
The weather is supposed to improve dramatically this weekend. Almost too dramatically for me.
Although I am glad, because I figure Oreo's last class before his trial will be held outdoors. I am hoping this week he shows less signs of stress. I just read a book that says if you yawn, it can actually help calm your dog. So, I am going to spend a lot of time yawning while we are out on the agility field waiting our turn.
After our class, I am going to bring the dogs to a CPE trial up the road, to expose Oreo to some trial sounds/sights. I will do a lot of yawning there as well.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
So, I spent much of my day sitting on the deck reading a book. It wasn't even about dog training!!!
The dogs were left to occupy themselves:
Back to work tomorrow, after 9 days off. It feels like I haven't seen my students in forever. First day back is always good.
My second day is an all day field trip to the local planetarium. Not so sure sticking 70 ninth graders in a dark room is such a good idea. Oh yea, and then we are bringing them all to burger king. Should make an interesting blog post.....stay tuned.....
Saturday, April 18, 2009
"Is that a hunk of cheese? I can reach it ya know."
Oreo did great on the indoor course. He missed one jump the first time. The second go round he did perfectly. Weave poles, obstacle discrimination, jump sequences - no problem!
Oreo and I got to the outdoor course first.
I let Oreo off the leash, got him over one jump, then freak boy came back! He took off running randomly. My instructor told me to leave the ring.
I left. In a few seconds, Oreo realized I had left him and came running back. I clicked and treated, but still couldn't keep his attention.
I started calling his name, like we had been practicing since yesterday. Not much response. The instructor told me to stop saying his name, just to click when he turned his head and came toward me slightly. We did this for about ten minutes or so. Eventually, he seemed to calm and orient himself toward me.
My teacher had a dog run the course, and told me to have Oreo watch. Oreo half watched, half looked the other direction. Then, it was our turn. I decided I was just going to try and get as much out of him as I could. I wasn't concerned about following the course, or contacts. I just wanted him to pay attention to me.
Well, Oreo did practically the whole course perfectly. He got a little hung up when he saw one of my teacher's dogs in her backyard when he was on top of the dogwalk, but other than that he did OK. Much better than yesterday. I felt a big sense of relief. Now, I know it is going to be possible. It just is going to be an adjustment for him.
Oreo watched the other dogs run, and was whimpering a bit from the sideline. Not sure if it was nerves, or if he wanted to be out there again. I'm hoping it was the latter.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Well, it was like starting from scratch. He was running all over the course randomly, not even looking at, or for me when I called him. Thank goodness it was fenced in, his recall was horrible. I was frustrated. It was very windy, things were blowing, the manure truck was in the nearby field, dogs were out....I think Oreo was on stimulus overload. He just did not feel secure.
My teacher suggested bringing Oreo in the building to see if he would work for me there.
In the building, Oreo was able to focus a bit better, but he still seemed "off". Once he gets in that zone, it is hard to get him out.
I brought him back down to the field, and just sat with him, feeding him chicken whenever he turned toward me when I called his name. Still, he did not want to take his eyes off the "poop" truck.
So, I brought him back in the agility ring, started running around randomly and throwing his ball. Finally, he was somewhat focused on me! He appeared to be relaxing, or maybe he was just getting tired...
I started running him through very short, 3-4 obstacle, sequences, and rewarded him big time.
What impressed me most was every time we got to the weave poles, he was completely focused and did all 12. However, on the dogwalk and A-frame, he paused on the top to look around.
I left feeling overwhelmed, and a bit frustrated. However, I'm glad I went today. I would have hated to have his first outdoor experience there as a class.
I'm hoping that next time will be easier, and he won't be so freaky.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
I set up the backyard dog course from Clean Run, and worked on sequence 2 and 3 with Oreo. We did great with sequence 3. Sequence 2 was much harder. Oreo kept going thru the tunnel at the end, when he needed to go to the jump at the opposite end of the tunnel. I tried beating him to the tunnel so I could guide him away, but he ignored me.
Maybe I needed to be more severe with my cues, although I thought yelling "O" , bending and practically getting in his face would get his attention. Maybe he was patterned from doing seqence 3, although we only did that a few times.
I'll try it again in the morning and I'll do seq. 2 first.
I told Jeff that he is just getting better with practice. He already has his next project started, but he was able to squeeze "my project" in today.
I got my two jumps! Jeff even fabricated (fancy chopper building vocabulary) two jump cups from scratch, because we ran out of the ones we had purchased on ebay.
Here are some photos I took. They're not as nice as the ones Jeff has taken in Dino's photo studio, but I did the best I could. It didn't help that Jeff kept stepping in the way to polish this and that.
This morning, we went for a walk, and then Oreo engaged in his usual half hour ball catching game with gusto.
What I realized yesterday, is that I don't know what to do with myself when I have a sick dog. My life has become so consumed with training, agility, and dog games. I found myself thinking, "What the heck did I do to occupy my time before agility?"
So, while I let Oreo rest, I took a few photos of my spring flowers.
OK, they are pretty, and I love to garden, but I'm glad I have my dog back.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
I fed him dinner. Which he vomited.
The rest of the evening, he was restless, laying in front of his waterbowl, and generally in a lot of discomfort.
I was ready to bring him to the ER, but I happened to have his annual physical scheduled for the next morning, so I convinced myself to wait it out.
Once I thought he had nothing left to vomit, I gave him some Pepcid AC, and brought him to bed.
He just couldn't get comfortable. He kept walking from room to room, climbing under the bed, scratching the rug, and squirming around.
Finally, I decided to bring out his crate and put him in there for the night. Oreo hasn't slept in a crate since he was a puppy.
Well, he slept in there all night, with just one whimper at midnight. He must really have not been feeling well.
This morning, he seemed a bit livelier. I gave him a small amount of food, and he was able to hold it down. However, he wasn't acting as playful as usual.
The vet thinks he is tinkering on the edge of pancreatitis (his pancreas felt slightly inflamed). So, he is on a diet of boiled chicken and rice for the next 7 days. If Oreo vomits anymore or has trouble sleeping tonight, we will go back for bloodwork tomorrow, and if needed an antibiotic.
I think Oreo is going to be just fine. He already seems much better than last night.
Now, off to the store to stock up on chicken and rice!
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
It was awesome! Sunny, warm. We were in our "summer vacation mode" for a few brief moments.
"Mommy, Misty called me a Pest. Can she be in trouble now?"
There appears to be a lot of controversy swirling around over Sasha and Malia's new puppy, Bo.
I say, you can never please everyone. Personally, I was hoping for a sheltie in the White House.
Oreo is thrilled that they chose a black and white dog. If only they had decided to name him "Oreo".....Oh the controversy that would have created!
Let's just hope Bo doesn't let our country down and bite a reporter, like Barney did.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Oreo did great on the serpentines. He flew through them, with me on either side. I didn't even have to do much handling at all. I thought, "Wow, he's becoming so independent!"
Perhaps, that was the problem, because when I switched to threadles, he wasn't even looking toward me. He just wanted to keep doing snakes.
I had to resort to saying, "here". Yuck, and I was really bending over.
Maybe I should have done serpentine, threadle, serpentine, threadle, so he wasn't learning a pattern?
I came home from work last Thursday, Jeff's day off. I found him sitting outside, with the saw, PVC pipe, and other supplies for the jumps.
He said, "You can see I didn't get around to making your jumps yet."
"What's the problem?" I asked.
You see, in what little spare time Jeff has, he designs and builds custom motorcycles. In the past, he has built them for himself, to his liking. Then, driven them around town for a few days, until someone took notice and offered him a lot of money for it.
The bike Jeff is building now is different. He is building it to spec for someone in North Carolina.
The buyer has a plane ticket, and will be here in a few days to pick it up. It is the first time Jeff is working under a time crunch.
Jeff always runs into a snag, just before getting the bike off the lift. The bike usually won't start for some reason.
This time, the bike started right up! Yes!
The problem? No rear brakes.
Yep. It will go, but you'll have to use the Fred Flintstone method to stop.
Jeff had spent his whole day off trying to bleed the brakes, to no avail.
I could see he was completely frustrated. I told him to forget about building the jumps.
For the next few days, Jeff worked on bleeding those brakes. No luck.
He said things like, "He'll just have to take the bike like it is, and I'll just give him money off the price."
I knew he didn't mean what he was saying. Jeff is a perfectionist, especially when it comes to his bikes. He knows his name will be attached to this bike forever, and he takes enormous pride in his work. As he should, Jeff's bikes have been featured in national magazines.
I knew he was losing sleep, and his back was killing him from spending so many hours bent over pumping those brakes.
After we got home from brunch yesterday, Jeff went back into the garage to "try again." He was down there for a few hours.
I hear. "Oh Yeah!"
I breathed a sigh of relief. He must have fixed the problem.
Jeff came upstairs and said, "Yes! Brake fluid just shot up in my eyeball!"
This is good news?
"A ton of air bubbles came out, finally! But now, I'm going to need your help."
Oh no. Not me. This never turns out well. However, I knew he had no other options. It was Easter Sunday, and his goto guy had already said he was busy.
"OK," I said.
All I had to do was push the brake down and hold it, while Jeff turned something.
I can do this.
Then, the questions started.
"Well, how does it feel?"
How does what feel?
"Does it feel better?"
Better than what?
"How does it feel compared to last time?"
I don't remember last time.
"Oh great, there's dog hair in the reservoir!"
Finally, my "help" was no longer needed. I was given a kiss, big smile, and a thank you.
Jeff was able to pull the bike off the lift, bring it outside and start it up.
More "Oh Yeah's!"
When Jeff came back upstairs, he said, "That bike is so gorgeous! He is going to love it! I can't wait to go to bed tonight. I am going to sleep good."
First thing this morning, I had my Clean Run magazine out. I said, "You see this sequence? I need 6 jumps. I only have 4."
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Saturday, April 11, 2009
We also were faced with a set of 12 weaves poles, for the first time in a class setting. Oreo didn't do all 12 consistently, but he did do them a couple times. I was told I need to stand up straight. I think I was bending over, because I was so worried he wouldn't do them. I really need to think more positively. Oreo knows how to weave, and I need to just remember that.
Overall, I was really happy with the way Oreo performed today, and his confidence level. He didn't seemed stressed out at all. There were a couple new dogs to the class, a couple papillons. They were yapping a bit when Oreo was running the course, so it was good distraction practice. Oreo did stop at the the top of the dog walk to look around at what all the noise was, but he was able to get focused back on me. My teacher said that once we get outside, those noises won't be so amplified.
She also measured Oreo. He is 15 1/2 inches. So, in CPE he will jump at 12 inches. In DOCNA, which is the trial we are signed up for, he can do either 12 or 16, depending on which group you are running in. I have signed us up for "select", which puts him in the 12 inch group.
Here is what Oreo likes to do while waiting his turn:
Misty had a good class today too. We worked on some jumps sequences, with 5 jumps, including a front cross. I actually had to do 2 front crosses to support Misty.
Misty also did the A-Frame, at full height, several times today. However, after 45 minutes, she walked right around it, so I knew she was getting tired of scaling tall buildings!
Poor Misty, the rest of the dogs in her class are puppies. They want to run, leap and jump, while Misty's favorite obstacle is the table!
I think after this session of classes, Misty will be retired from agility. At least from classes. She can still play in the backyard.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
The sequence wasn't that difficult. What I realized is how much I've improved the use of my left hand. I used to do everything possible to avoid using it. Now, I think nothing of having Oreo on that side.
I just love doing jumping exercises with Oreo. When Oreo's in his groove, it feels like we are so connected, almost like we are dancing together. I don't have to say a word, he just glides where I want him to go. I can't really describe the feeling, but it is awesome.
Here is a video of our practice, Misty joins in the fun too.
I really need more jumps. I know when I ask Jeff to build me more he is going to say, "Why do you need more jumps?"
I already have my response planned!
"Why did you need to buy another motorcycle this weekend?"
Works every time! You should see how many motorcycles/frames/parts are in our garage!!!!!
Monday, April 6, 2009
Anyway, Oreo was being so silly during our trick games today that I got the video out. Well, while filming, Oreo came up with his own trick. He is such a clever boy. This is a silly video.
Now I'm going to have to change my cue word for Oreo's right paw to "foot" or something, since I decided to call this new trick "paws". I forgot dogs don't really know the difference between singular and plural nouns. Or do they? Hmmm.
And no, I don't have a cricket in my house, that noise you kept hearing was my new electronic clicker.
It is cold and raining here today, but here is a photo I took yesterday!
Sunday, April 5, 2009
After our first run, one of our classmates took her turn, and something happened. I think she may have tripped over her dog. All I know is her dog went in a tunnel, and next thing I knew, I saw my classmate face down on the ground. It was horrible.
Her nose was bleeding all over. The three humans who were still standing, began running around trying to get towels, ice, etc. I hunted for her dogs' leash, and got him in a crate. I'm not good around blood.
She was eventually able to get up, make it to a chair, and ice her nose.
The rest of us did a couple runs with our dogs! Saying, "make a noise if you need us!"
Soon though, it became obvious that the swelling was pretty bad, and my teacher made the decision to drive her to the ER.
My remaining classmate is an instructor, so she instructed me, and then did some work with her dog.
Oreo did well, but I am unable to send him into tunnels. He has never really been into tunnels. So, that is our homework for this week. Tunnel, treat. Tunnel, treat. I think Misty will be thrilled with that activity!
Oreo kept dropping a bar during a series of two jumps, then a tunnel. She said it was because I was turning too soon to send him to the tunnel.
Boy, the dogs really notice every slight movement of your body.
She said that Oreo is also ready for me to start distancing myself, especially during weaves. She actually drew a line in the dirt that I wasn't allowed to cross. She was right. Oreo still weaved, even though I wasn't close to him.
It was so great having someone tell me what to do - after a couple weeks of aimlessly working in the backyard!
Misty's beyond beginners class had only one other dog show up. There would have been three dogs, if our classmate hadn't fallen.
Misty and the other dog are polar opposites. Misty is slow and pokey. The other dog is crazy fast and impulsive. That dog will be a great agility dog.
Misty is a great couch potato! Still, Misty did a good job, and she did charge through the tunnel! At least I have one dog who loves to tunnel.
We worked the dogs on a low teeter. At one point, Misty's classmate got scared of the teeter noise, so Misty had to do the teeter, while the other dog got a treat each time it made the "bang" sound. Imagine that - my noise sensitive dog, helping another dog, overcome a fear of the teeter!
We also worked on sending the dogs over two jumps to the table. Misty lacked confidence, and wouldn't let me send her from anywhere further than halfway from the last jump.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Oreo is still not dry, and Misty is still very wet. However, I am just stunned by how white Oreo's white is. Now, I'm embarrassed I've been walking around with such filthy creatures!
However, the bigger problem is clearly my HANDS and ARMS! They are just ridiculous. In my seminar, our instructor had handed out bean bags for us to throw. You run the course without the dog, and throw the bean bags. If you are doing things correctly, the bean bags should land where you want the dog to go. I can only imagine where my bean bags would have landed if I had had them during this exercise! Probably on my next door neighbor's jungle gym.
In my last attempt, I tried clapping before switching hands. Our instructor had also suggested this. She said it is the ONLY time she suggests clapping. It did seem to help, but didn't eliminate my high hand waving.
Boy, I can't wait to go back to my agility school. I feel bad for Oreo. He is stuck with a hand flapping, waving, fool of a handler. Poor thing, he probably had a sore neck from having to look up at me all afternoon. When I watched the video, I saw that Oreo was really doing the best he could based on my arm movements. Any mistakes he made were sooooooo my fault. When I was clear, he went where I wanted him to go.
Interesting how that works!
Luckily our classes start back up again today. Oreo and I will be in the "intermediate class", that is if we don't get demoted to Misty's "beyond beginners".
Here's another video we shot this week of us working on our "start line". We're doing OK, but I'm not asking Oreo for a very long "wait" period. I'm focusing more on the set and go right now.
I think the best thing I got out of the seminar is a clicker that Misty is not deathly afraid of! I have wanted to use a clicker for months, since Lian had encouraged me to do so when teaching the elephant trick. However, whenever I used a standard clicker or even an i-click, Misty would run into the guest room and hide. She is very noise sensitive. I think it may have something to do with the fact that she had been "lost" in the woods for several days, before I adopted her. Who knows.
The instructor suggested an electronic clicker that has different volume levels and 4 sounds to choose from. I put it on the quietest setting. I tried out all the sounds, and Misty is only tolerant of the one that sounds like a cricket!
The only bad part is it needs batteries, and it cost a lot more than a standard clicker. It is called "clicker +", if anyone is interested. I found it on cleanrun.com. I think it is a Karen Pryor product.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
I also helped catch our first rogue dog of the season. Our neighbor's dog got loose and came tearing down the hill. Misty and Oreo went berserk barking. I ran to get treats to try and lure the dog. The owner was yelling, "Come! Come!" Yea right! Ha! The dog didn't even turn his head.
Luckily, his son was able to finally catch the dog, once I had him cornered, and the dog never got close to the road, just close to the stream.
Misty loved having something REAL to bark at.
Here I caught Misty just wandering into the tunnel. As though she was thinking, "Hmmmm, I guess I'll just walk through this thing on my to find something else to bark at."
Hope everyone else had a nice day too!