Sunday, September 28, 2008

videos from agility practice

Oreo and I went to practice some agility on our school's equipment today. Jeff and Misty came along and took some video.

It was good to come home and watch the video, because I learned that I definitely need to work on making sure that Oreo hits his contacts at the end of the equipment. He tends to jump off a little too early at the end. That could result in a nasty penalty.

I was really proud of Oreo's teetering today. He did it perfectly. A big improvement from yesterday.

The first video is Oreo and I practicing individual obstacles that are new to us, after some warm up jumps (the unbreakable kind). In the second video, we do a sequence of several obstacles, where my main role was to make sure his leash didn't snag on any of the equipment.

Hope you enjoy our antics! We still have a long way to go!

If you are reading this blog via email, make sure you go to my website to watch the videos:

You'll see in the end that Jeff and Misty couldn't resist getting involved in the action (OK, maybe Misty could have resisted, but she was a good sport about it).

agility lesson 3

Oreo had a good agility lesson this week. He got to do a full size dog walk this week. It was just about at my eye level. Oreo went right up and walked it with no problem.

He also did a full size teeter. I though this would go better than it actually did, since Oreo is an expert teeterer at home.

The problem is our teeter at home is half the size of regulation. So, when he got to the full size, he walked so fast he was at the end of the teeter before it even had the chance to fall all the way to the ground.

So, we will have to work on him stopping and waiting for the board to fall to the ground before he runs to the end of the board.

We also practiced closed tunnels, or what I like to call "tunnel-chute". Oreo loves his tunnel-chute at home. However, the chute material at the lesson is made out of a much heavier material than ours. It took Oreo a few tries to get used to the difference. Plus, the big dogs were working on jumps right next to us. I think Oreo was trying to keep an eye on them, and was having a difficult time focusing on me.

I am beginning to realize that part of the value of taking a class is getting accustomed to different kinds of equipment. If you go to competitions, you never know what kind of equipment they will have.

The same thing happened when I competed in gymnastics. Some balance beams and spring boards are just better than others, and you never knew what a particular gym might own.

At the end of the class, the instructor told us that we are now allowed to come and practice on their equipment any time we want. That was a surprise to me.

So, if the weather holds out today, I am hoping to bring Jeff and Misty over to show them how Oreo does the A-Frame and dog walk. We'll bring the camera and maybe the camcorder, so I can share it here.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

pause table

Jeff spent his day off today making Oreo (me) a pause table.

I thought we could use one more piece of agility equipment in the backyard, and I had a book with directions on how to build one.

Jeff, of course, made some modifications to the plans. Everything made in our basement has to be customized.

Jeff wanted to make sure the table would be light enough for me to move around, but sturdy enough to support Oreo. The original plans would have made a very heavy table. This one is perfect for us.

I couldn't wait to get Oreo up and running, I mean pausing, on it. Paint just doesn't dry quick enough sometimes.

Here are some photos from our trial run:

Oreo really seemed to like hopping on, going into the down position, staying for five seconds, then barreling through his tunnel and over some jumps. Of course, he always gets to chase his ball at the end, that's his favorite part.

Hmmmm, I wonder what I can have Jeff build us next weekend.....

Saturday, September 20, 2008

2nd agility lesson

Last week, I was talking to Jeff about Oreo's first agility class, and he asked me, "Did they teach you anything that you didn't already know?"

I thought about it, and really couldn't come up with anything. The only new things we(Oreo and I) got out of the class, was the use of the equipment we lacked in our yard - the A-Frame and the catwalk.

I told Jeff that I felt bad for the other dogs in the class who were learning agility solely in this format.

Oreo learned agility completely off a leash, and each obstacle was taught as a game, with a ball in his mouth. It was always fun for him.

The dogs in the class were being pulled and pushed through the obstacles.

I'm sure the dogs will learn, but they aren't having nearly as much fun as Oreo did.

During this week's class, Oreo got the chance to show off a bit more.

Again, we started the class with some warm up jumps. Like last week, I broke some of the equipment. I don't think I will ever get used to holding a leash while Oreo is jumping over equipment. At least I wasn't the only person who broke a jump this week.

Then, we were on to the weave poles.

Oreo politely watched (really) while the other dogs were pulled, pushed and bribed through the weave poles. When it was our turn, I said, "Oreo weave, weeeeaaave, weeaavve,....". Oreo went through the poles, and it would have been flawless if the damn leash hadn't got caught on a pole.

After one round through the poles, we were split into our large dog/small dog groups again.

We got the good teacher for the second week in a row.

She led us to a shorter group of weave poles, which were easier to maneuver with a leash. Oreo went through them perfectly.

"Has he done this before?" I am asked.

Yep. Just a few hundred times.

Then, we are off to practice some sequencing with a short A-frame, 2 catwalks , a jump, and two tires.

Run through that a couple times, and you end up with one sweaty human and one long tongued dog.

The teacher walks us into a shady corner where a super long, 10 foot tunnel awaits.

I whisper to Oreo, "Look, Oreo your favorite, a tunnel!" Oreo gave me a little tail wag, then went off to sniff something fascinating under the A-frame.

Much to our disappointment, the teacher collapses the tunnel from 10 feet to about 5 inches! She tells us that she will hold the dog's leash, and we must get on the other side of the tunnel so the dog can see us and then we will coax the dog through the tunnel.

Oh please.

When it is our turn, I say "Tunnel Oreo", and he walks right through.

"Your dog has done this before?"

Yep. A few thousand times.

Gradually, the tunnel gets longer and longer. Oreo consistently goes through without any need for me to run to the other end and call him.

One older gentleman has to actually lay on the ground and crawl into the tunnel to coax his dog through! When his dog finally tunnels it is quite exciting! I cheered for him.

Then, we do a tunnel/table/sit combo. Oreo does so perfectly.

Class is about over, and we head to the dreaded 6 foot A-Frame.

I opt to go last. I really don't like this obstacle.

I say to Oreo "Wall, wall, wall." To my surprise, he goes right up and over.

However, at the top he walks dangerously close to the edge of the equipment, rather than the center.

I express my concern to the teacher.

She says, "Well, you are short and you bought a short dog."

We attempted it three more times, and Oreo went right up and over each time. Boy, is he brave. I tried to make it fun for him with lots of treats, sweet talking and dancing around at the end. I noticed no one else in the class is doing this. I don't care if I make a fool of myself. My dog will have fun.

The teacher noticed what I was doing, and said to the others in my group, "See what she's doing, that's the way to do it."

Maybe I should be teaching a class.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Oreo's first agility class

Oreo and I just got home from his first day of school. I must say both of us are exhausted. After saying hello to his sister and a quick drink of water, Oreo crawled under our bed, always a sign that he is really tired.

The class started with us going over a series of four jumps. I thought we would have no problem with this. We do jumps everyday.

What we don't do everyday, is jump with a leash on. Since we are in a class setting, all the dogs are on leashes.

On our second jump, Oreo's leash got tangled on one of the poles, and the entire jump fell apart into about ten pieces.

Oops. How embarrassing. So much for us being the star students.

Eventually, I got the hang of holding the leash higher to clear the jump. Oreo did his part perfectly. Mistakes in agility are always the fault of the handler, not the dog.

Then, we went on to the mid size A-Frame, about 5 feet tall. Now, I was excited. This was an obstacle Oreo had never done before, and was one of the main reasons I wanted to get him in a class.

Oreo really did not like it at first. He tried to jump off at the top, which could have been disastrous. I had to learn to make the leash really small, before putting him on the obstacle. After a few tries, he got more comfortable, but then we were on to our next activity.

There were two instructors, so they split us into two groups. Oreo and I were put in with the "small dogs", which was great, because it was the smaller group and I think we had the better instructor. Also, I didn't have to deal with the scary German shepherd.

The instructor had us run through a hoop/jump combo. Again, Oreo's leash got caught on the hoop, and poor Oreo got stuck. The instructor let me take off his leash to run him through the obstacles. So, that was good.

Then, we went to the "table". The dogs had to get on the table, sit/down, and stay for five seconds. Oreo did so brilliantly. All those hours of hard work paid off. I was amazed how quickly he followed my directions, with all the distractions and strangers around.

Next, we were on to the catwalk. Another obstacle I lack in my backyard. I have been longing to say "Oreo, walk it, walk it...," now I finally had my chance. Oreo excelled at this obstacle. It is similar to the teeter, but it doesn't move.

Finally, we rejoined the other group and attempted the really tall, 6ft A-Frame. I was a bit unsure about putting Oreo on this obstacle, since he really wasn't too sure about the mid size one earlier. Plus, there was no way I could reach the top to help him get over and keep him from jumping off, which would definitely cause an injury.

We went for it anyway. We ran up, I said "Wall Oreo, wall." He went up to the top, tried to bail, I yelled "Help, I can't reach!", and the instructors kept him on and Oreo ran down the other side. Phew.

We tried a couple more times, and each time he hesitated a bit less. On our last turn, the instructor told me, "You have to finish on a good note." So, I remembered my gymnastics days, when I pictured myself doing my vault perfectly in my head just before it was my turn. I did the same with Oreo. We ran to the wall, and Oreo went right up and over the top.

He got lots of jerky at the bottom.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Feisty Misty

Just when I think that Misty is slowing down, not feeling well, or perhaps finally becoming a "senior dog", she proves me wrong by keeping up with her much younger brother in a good chase around the backyard. As the weather gets cooler, Misty gets feistier.

(hmmm, maybe Misty should be doing agility)

and the game ends with a bow

Thursday, September 11, 2008

changes for the dogs

My going back to work has been a big lifestyle change for the dogs. No longer do they get to spend the entire morning (and most of the afternoon) in the yard, like they do when I am on summer vacation. I get them out for a half hour walk, and then at least 15-20 minutes of ball throwing/chasing either inside or outside before I head to work each day. Still, I feel guilty. Oreo seems to be full of energy when I leave him with his treat filled kong.

When I drive up to the house at 3:30, both dogs are standing on the back of the couch peering out the picture window, waiting for their afternoon "mommytime" to begin. That's when we head outside. Oreo and I run some agility and play ball, while Misty lays in the sun, barks along with the neighbors' dogs and keeps track of what is going on along the road. Misty loves to just be outside observing. Oreo just wants to be wherever I am, preferably with a ball in my hand (come on let's play, let's play, let's play.....).

I'm sure they will get used to their new routine. I am slowly getting used to mine. Jeff tells me that every year I leave for work later and later. No, the school start time hasn't changed. It is still 8:30. It is just that I look at Oreo and think, OK I have time for one more throw of that ball....OK one more....OK this is the last one....