2012 training goals

February 2012

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I was all motivated to work on tracking after watching Cheryl and Bern pass their certification yesterday. So I did a short one turn track for Twinkle, a two turn track for Sprigs, and a nice at least half length to two thirds length X style track for Lego. Twinkle takes FOREVER to do a short two turn track. Must sniff every blade of grass. She did fine, but does not stop or indicate the glove (even with steak bits IN it). She is all about the tracking part. OF course I am still not sure she actually knows she is tracking a person. I'm still at the stage where I only go forward (and her leash is only 3 feet long) when she is on the track. Sprigs was disappointing in that she didn't know to START since there were no treats at the flag. She did all her track, but she stops and looks around or gets bored. I think she needs treats along the track again in wide intervals. At least she DOES stop for the glove with steak bits in it.

Lego had to wait until afternoon to do his track since it needed to be aged a good bit. He wasn't happy with the wait after watching the girls get out to track. I started him smack in the middle of our front yard (lots of old scent) and the first leg crossed the gravel driveway. I figured this to be the hardest part of his track and I was right. He just wouldn't pick the right way to the point that he came to me and quit. So I took him back inside and we tried again in 10 minutes. He did finally get the start figured out. If I could ever fix THAT problem... It took him as long to start as it did to complete the whole bloody track. After that horrid start he was just great. The track went down the side of the fence and then cut into the woods. He stopped for the plastic hotel key and made his 5 turns in the woods fine. Stopped at the denim too. He only fumbled a bit at the next to last turn. I think he was headed to the creek for a drink because he was hot, tired and thirsty. He even tracked right through the horse fence! The last leg and a half popped out of the woods and into the horse 'pasture'.  What a champ!

I did make a small straight line track for Kayak the evening too. He will do ANYTHING for food and right now his 'track' is laced with treats every 5 steps. He likes that game. He even mauled the glove at the end that had steak in it. 


Yesterday Rich and I and my brother went out to the Global Wildlife Center. I thought it was great weather for seeing the animals. It was in the 50s with a breeze. They have about 900 acres of free roaming hoofed creatures. They've probably doubled the number of animals out there since Rich and I went over 10 years ago. It was a nice outing. After the tour of the grounds we went to a restaurant in the local town (Flosom,LA). My brother, Todd, likes experiencing the local flavor. Gus' Restaurant fit that bill and wasn't half bad.

This afternoon I went out to watch Cheryl's dog, Bernie, try to get his tracking certification so he can enter the local tracking trial. I've been putting in tracks for Bernie on my lunch hours fairly regularly recently. He's been doing well. He passed with flying colors!! So, now we are up to 4 TD entries (the basic level) and 2 TDX entries. At least that's a respectable number of entries.


Sprigs and Spirit made a short trek to my agility field today mostly to work on weaves. Spirit did just great. I'm feeling good about agility the first weekend in March. Thinking she may have found her weaves again. Sprigs actually did very well her first couple of times by the weaves and then started not weaving after six poles. Turns out she stepped on a small thorn bush thingy growing right up under the poles. DANG! That's not helping my weave pole issues. I pulled up the little thorny thing and coaxed her to walk through that area of the poles (not weaving). Then I tried to get her through the poles weaving. She was still convinced that there was a stickery thing there. It took me several tries to get her to weave through that area. Then there were lots of treats and praise. Xanadu went out and practiced her dogwalk. She's catching on too. There may be hope for dogwalk contacts in shows again soon. Sparkle and Twinkle made an appearance out there too. Sparkle was great! She did all the contacts and the weaves with a decent amount of speed and enthusiasm. Feeling OK about the chance of finishing her Novice Agility title this year. Twinkle, well, she capable. She does full height equipment. She just doesn't check in with me for treats, or for any reason, after she does anything. I can't get her nose up at all. *sigh*

OH.. and how could I forget... Kayak had his first real grooming session today. It started with introducing the bathtub sprayer for the bath. There were some mildly annoying noises coming from him for the first few minutes, but he settled down some. I figured while I was at it I should just introduce the grooming table, combs and blow dryer. But I was hesitant to overwhelm him, or my ears. In the end I bit the bullet and drug out all that conformation stuff. Now that both his man parts have decided to stay put, he'll need to accepting of all that anyway. The table made him a bit nervous, but at least he was smart enough to not hang himself trying to get off. The first time he stepped a foot off thrashing around and felt the tightening on his neck he learned to keep his feet on. That, at least, kept me from having to worry about him bailing off in addition to trying to keep him somewhat still. I turned the blow dryer on the lowest speed and held it towards the ground to start with. He didn't like that much at all. Then I whooshed it over him real quickly and back to the ground. Let the screaming commence! Several more times of that and he at least resigned himself to it and the screaming volume went down and he quit dancing so bad when the air hit him in the rump. He was not pleased at all, but I got the noises under control while I blew his sides and rump dry. I was even able to add combing lightly with one hand while blowing. He is losing some puppy fluff!! I got it up my nose and in my mouth. When he was almost completely dry I let him off the table and we walked around and got treats. Then I headed back to the table with the combs and such. He balked! He didn't want back on the table. I hauled him up and just lightly combed on him some. I only kept him up there a few minutes and then off again.


Lego went in for some dental attention today. Last time I was cleaning teeth and checking mouths I realized his was out of my realm for helping. He hasn't had a dental ever (or maybe once when he had a broken tooth out). I don't like dropping him at the vet. He is a fear bite risk. Not the kind of dog to maul a stranger, but a bite and run kind of dog. He is terrified of all things that go on at a vet's office. So, I scheduled for today so I could hold him while they took blood and then gave him the 'I'm too dopey to care' shot. I told them again to watch the fear issue and left him. A call about an hour later told me he needed 11 teeth out. None rotting out of his head or anything, but a couple where the gums had receded enough that there was tarter on the roots, a couple loose ones and a few that had lost a good deal of root mass. Just after noon I got a call. "Come get you man. He's on his feet and doesn't want to have anything to do with any of us." I run up the road (4 miles or so) to get him. He's in a recovery cage standing up, muzzled and shaking. Poor man! I opened the cage took the muzzle off, put on his collar and held him still while they removed his cath. I carried him to the door and he drug me to the car and tried to jump in. So, apparently they use a knock out juice for dentals that allows the dogs to wake up a warp speed. This is good for dogs, bad for people. One tech says, "I think I see an eye" and before they can move the dogs are up and moving. It's not uncommon for even nice dogs to freak at that point. They wake up, strange people, strange place, mouth hurts. Well, Lego was no exception. NO one got hurt, but he came up to kill. I got him home and in a wire crate in the living room to finish his recovery. Took him most of the rest of the day to start to function well. I mixed a can of food with a cup of kibble and swirled it around and put it in the fridge to wait for him to be ready to eat something. Turned out to be a great idea. The mash became the consistency of ice cream. I was able to spoon out heaps for him to swallow whole. No soft food sticking to stitches, no kibble rubbing them. PERFECT!

While at the vet I bought some medicated (antifungal, antibacterial ) shampoo for Twinkle. She's been having some itchy problems of late. Nothing too bad, so we're going to start with medicated baths a couple of times a week and up her intact of Fresh Factors to see if we can stave off the problem. She had her first medicated bath while I waited on Lego to come home. Last night we started giving her an extra Fresh Factors before bed. It all seems to be helping. I'll be glad if that's all it takes!


Kamikaze, Kayak and I joined Cheryl, Grace and Spice for the trek out to New Iberia, LA this weekend. My Saturday didn't start so well. I had everything in the Expedition Friday night but me and the dogs since I had to take off from the house around 4:30 am to head to Cheryl's. The best laid plans... Anyway I got myself out to the vehicle with the dogs, started it up and I can't get it out of park. WHAT!!??!! I just drove the thing Thursday night and it was fine. I go back inside and wake up Rich to let him know I was taking his truck and why. I just didn't have time to deal with figuring out the Expedition. I moved his truck up near the Expedition and started throwing my stuff in the truck. Rich emerged from the house and started fiddling with the Expedition. I was just glad the rain was light and it was Cheryl's turn to drive and she wasn't expecting me to pick her up this time. About the time I am reaching for the crates to grab the dogs and move them Rich announced he fixed it. 'It' happened to be a disconnected wire snap together thingy under the steering column.  OK, I know the gist of how the gear shifting works. First thing is you have to have your foot on the brake to shift gears. Well, there has to be some way for the vehicle to know that your foot is on the brake to release the shifter handle. THAT was 'it', the disconnected wires. HOW they got disconnected between Thursday night and Saturday morning is a mystery! GRRRRR... Now, already running late I am throwing my stuff BACK into the Expedition. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad it was that easy a solution, but ARGH!! I ended up being only 10 minutes late thanks to the insanely absent traffic on the roads at 4:45 am on the Saturday before Mardi Gras in the drizzling rain.

The drive was icky, rainy and I was glad to be the passenger. We made it to the arena in plenty of time to unload, grab a bite, and get the dogs pottied before the drizzle turned monsoon! There were several spurts of insane down pouring as well as one really nasty, windy, noisy strip of rain that had us dashing about to move crates away from the hallways and edges of the covered arena before they blew away (or got soaked). Kamikaze and I were lucky enough to finish our standard run just before the absolute deafening band of rain (the one in which the judge had to hold up fingers for the table count because you couldn't hear him). Kazee got a Q in Exc Standard. It was a couple of hours before our Jumpers run and the rain had died to a drizzle again by then. We pulled off an excellent Jumpers run right up until the last jump. The one in which I cut behind her and she turned her head to check on the direction I intended to go and in doing so missed the last jump. ACK! What a stupid handler move. I did get to redeem myself some in Time 2 Beat (a class I rarely enter). There was a line of jumps down the side of the Aframe where you had to turn them off the fourth one in their direct line. There was no way I could stop Kamikaze from taking that fourth jump without turning myself very early. That plan was destroyed by the location of the Aframe (that you can't run through). I decided to layer the Aframe so I could get her to turn easily. There were several incredulous comments about our ability to 'pull that off' during the walk through when people saw what I was planning. Well, pull it off we did and it was seamlessly wonderful. So there!

Cheryl and I had a nice drive home Saturday and a beautiful drive back on Sunday. I was able to hold it together Sunday in both runs and came home with Kamikaze's 15th double Q. We need 5 more. I'd like to finish that MACH up before her 5th birthday in March.


Rich and I had our Valentine's meal last night followed by a shopping spree at Sears for Rich. I have Sierra Trading Post bringing me some new stuff, so I didn't 'spree' at Sears.

Tonight was the last meeting of Cheryl's and my beginner obedience class. Cheryl came up with a rally style course for everyone to do that demonstrated the skills we've been working as well as incorporating the 'fun' stuff they've learned. At the end they showed off their trick and got to dig in a box of toys for a goodbye gift. I felt great about how everyone did and we encouraged them to come back the next session and experience a new set of people and a different teaching style. I was somewhat unhappy on the way home though. Maybe I'll blame it on the obedience committee actually sending someone out to 'observe' our class. Not that it should matter since Cheryl and I just decided teaching obedience wasn't worth the committee harassment. Not sure what other reason to blame for feeling uneasy.

Before class Xanadu worked on finding her article enthusiasm again. She did very well and always brought me the right one (all 4 times) and got chicken for it. I think we built some excitement for them again. We're getting there. Sprigs practiced her broad jump (agility style) and worked on keeping her head up on heeling. Kayak did some actually heeling on an obedience leash/collar. He looks good. I need to remember his not quite 5 month old attention span is only about 10 steps though. He's doing well with turning, but not as well with changes of pace. We haven't really ever worked on changing pace before.

Now to get up at 4am Saturday morning to report to Cheryl's by 5am to head out to New Iberia LA for some agility. This time it's just me and the Siberians. Always makes me feel a bit lost to only run one dog.


I took Xanadu, Spirit, Sprigs, Kamiakze and Kayak out to the club agility field this evening before classes to work on their issues. Spirit and Sprigs both did awesome on the weaves there too. Sprigs did the chute and the teeter and even let me back cross a tunnel. That's encouraging. Xanadu is still a bit confused as to the new criteria on the dogwalk, but she's at least hitting the contact zone now as she understands I am asking for something at the bottom so she's slowing up some and making it to the bottom. Kamikaze did great with the new dogwalk criteria. Kayak did wonderful there as well on his dogwalk even with a tunnel under the middle of it. I still haven't progressed to the tunnel under the ramp problem. He's still got the best dogwalk contact of anyone here!


There was agility practice for all those dogs that have 'lost' things as well as those we are trying to fix things on. Kayak got back out to the teeter and dogwalk after last time trying to overcome his freak out about the tunnel under the dogwalk. He did fine! And his contact is just beautiful. His favorite thing is the table now though because he discovered laying on the table is the easiest way to get treats in agility. Kamikaze is learning a dogwalk contact behavior. I am teaching her like I taught Kayak and she is catching on fast. Xanadu is trying to learn the new dogwalk contact behavior and NOT catching on quickly at all. Spirit and Sprigs both worked on remembering how to focus and concentrate on weaving. Both made large strides towards repairing the broken behavior.

I cleaned up Nikita's crate and crate mat, stowed her crate tag, leash and collar and washed and removed the old dog pillow from the dog room to wait for the next old dog to require it. It has served Misty and Nikita well in their last days and still has lots of  'Serta' life left in it. I have updated her page on the website and added her to Rainbow Bridge too. Somehow taking care of all this helps me with closure. And it's easier to move on when all her stuff is not visible anymore.


We froze our tushes off in Mobile this weekend. Saturday was 40 something with a brisk north wind. On the way back to the hotel we stopped at Academy Sports to browse their 50% off winter collection. Got a few extra clothes for Sunday which turned out to be 28 degrees in the morning! The beagles stayed in the car parked in the sun with their fleece jackets on the whole weekend.

Overall we had a good weekend. Kamikaze was 3 for 5 gaining her 14th double Q. She was just a tad wild with the Siberian friendly weather. Here's that run in 28 degree weather. We're on track to finish that MACH by the summer for sure. I'd love to finish it before she turns five in April though.

Lego had really nice runs this weekend, but only one was a Q. Spirit lost her weaves the whole weekend. She finally found them, though not really good weaves,  the second try on the last run of the weekend. I immediately left to get her treats for weaving. She also was still not doing teeters on Sat., but I managed to baby her through a teeter on Sunday. When she did it we ran for our treats. Here's hoping that finding a high spot to reward her for will stick in her mind and she'll keep her teeters and weaves. Xanadu only ran on Sunday, the coldest day, so I wasn't holding out a lot of hope. I am thrilled to report she ran like a demon child her first run. That also includes missing contacts and weave entries, but I'll take that dog ANY DAY. She ran nicely, although not as intense in Jumpers for her 8th MXJ leg. That's two weekends in a row that she's run each time I put her at the line! Next weekend is a show close enough to drive back and forth to. I'm only showing Kamikaze there though.

Cheryl is now dragging her new addition, Spice, to all the shows to get her used to all the new environments. That put 8 dogs in the car and it was all good. Cheryl and Grace pulled out their second Open Jumpers leg this weekend too.

10th - Goodbye Nikita

Nikita's tumor has about overtaken the whole front of her mouth now. I have pictures, but they are upsetting so I won't post them. Even without a diagnosis the apparent surgery to remove this thing would be too invasive to put an old lady through. I took her in and said goodbye before I left town. We should know what it was by Monday, but I am at peace that we did the best thing for her. She was the dog I decided I wanted to train for competition obedience when she was around 5. WHAT WAS I THINKING? We struggled our way to learning the competition ropes and I was the subject of many Siberian antics to say the least. I learned a good deal about training a stubborn dog from her though. I even got her trained in agility enough to get her Novice titles and show her at Siberian Husky nationals one year in agility and obedience. She would have been 14 in May. She's had a good run here with us. She lived her life to the fullest and mostly on her own terms. She was our Prima Donna girl. Rest well.


Nikita's tumor is bleeding ever more. Every morning since we found it has been one of stained front legs and stained pillows/blankets. This afternoon the tumor appears almost twice as big as it was when we discovered it Tuesday.

Tomorrow afternoon I'm headed to Mobile, AL for a couple of days of agility. Rich is leaving early in the am for an overnight seminar in St. Louis.

Tonight was my next to last obedience class to teach for this session. Everyone is doing great! 



This morning I got up and found Nikita with bright red blood on her front paws. A quick exam found a growth in her mouth, right side, front, that had overtaken a couple of teeth and was dripping blood. I woke Rich up and told him to take her and drop her at the vet on his way to the office. They didn't work a full exam in until late afternoon, but at the vet got a cursory look around lunch. He took some pictures and sent them to a specialist. Rich and I got to the vet before they knocked her out to take a biopsy sample and some dental x-rays. We have a five day wait on the biopsy, but the x-rays and exam don't seem to indicate the growth is involving any bone or sinus cavity. Of course they said the same thing about Bandit and we all know how that turned out. Since it was so late when they got to her I had to carry her out and she still wasn't really aware of where she was when we went to bed. But, she could walk on her own. I am concerned that if we have to wait so long to decided what it is it may engulf most of the front of her mouth by the time we make a decision on treatment. I mean it cropped up really fast!


The show in the Memphis area was fun. Kayak got some running time in the field with a friend's German Shepherd. The GSD moved him like stock a little and at first he was a bit unsure what to do. When the GSD was reined in he barreled at her and bounced and woofed for more chase. I think he had a good time with her. The only issue was when I called him and he turned to come she'd cut him off if her owner wasn't calling her in. Silly herding dogs. Kayak did very well all weekend with his puppy games. I let him drag a leash around the show area some and get all distracted so I could reward him for the choice to come back to me. He did awesome. He even recalled off a dog's face from just a foot away when he'd decided he need to say hi. 

Josie had a great jumpers run Sat. morning in which I pushed her past a jump, but she was a happy running dog. Sunday she had an even better jumpers run with a happy off course. I was just thrilled to see her run and have fun. She got a chance at gamblers Sunday too and she was so close to getting the gamble. She even hit her Aframe contact two out of two tries. Xanadu ran her little legs off in all three of her runs. Unfortunately that sometimes involves off courses and missed contacts. I was only disappointed in her weaves this weekend. Twice she started slow and slunk through them. Once she ran them well. I was just so happy to see her run and have fun and not walk. I don't know if the daily stretches are helping or if my attitude is helping or if our pre-run routine change is helping. 

Kamikaze had a great time in TEAM. She actually WON team gamblers! Then she humbled me by E'ing  Team Standard. At least I was in good company as there were many E's on that Standard course. I blew the team snooker by forgetting my plan and then almost losing it when she did something unexpected. At least we didn't come out with zero points, but we were last place in Snooker. I redeemed myself by blazing through our part of relay. My teammates were great and we ended up in first place. So, now with two TEAM Q's under our belt we're on our way to the goal of Tournament Master.

The saddest news from the weekend was Jedi. He just can't hear me well enough to even get him around a course now. He retired himself Saturday after I saw just how bad his hearing had gotten. I let him run Sunday as a final goodbye. He made the most of it by visiting the judge and all the bar setters. He even got through the weaves on the second try, but he never did down on the table that last run! He is the reason I found this sport I enjoy so much. I was looking for an active activity to get him into after I rescued him. It was clear he need mental and physical stimulation! Here's to you, Jedi, you irritating, snarky, back-talking, infuriating old man! I've learned so much from you and I feel bad for all those training pits we had to fall in and crawl out of together. May you enjoy retirement though I somehow doubt it will sit well with you.

I took a day off so I could stay in Memphis for half a day and spend time with Mom. We shopped the morning away and then I loaded up at noon and headed back.


Tonight's obedience class went very well. I was happy to see the Bloodhound show up with a pinch collar! His owners were much more in control and he learned he actually does have to respect them. I got home all pumped up about how well everyone is doing. Two more classes to go for them.

I'm off tomorrow afternoon to head to Memphis for a USDAA agility show. These guys are like my second home club and I love going to their shows. Kamikaze is running team with two nice Border Coliies. It'll be interesting to see how well Jedi does after months off and with his hearing deteriorating. I'd really love to see Xanadu just run her little heart out and screw the worries with Q's. Josie needs one Jumpers leg for Jumper Silver title. She has two chances. Here's hoping, but I'm just really wanting to focus on getting her out there to have fun.

1st - Happy Birthday Cedar

Today is Cedar's 12th birthday. She has really started to show her age in the past year. Hard to believe we have so many old guys at the house now.