2006 training goals 2006 Obedience log by week

November 2006

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YEAH! We now have again a properly functioning Modad. Turns out the guys who installed our fence 2 1/2 years ago managed to put a 4X4 wooden post right on the sewer line. Their auger just punctured the top of the line, so the line functioned fine until the surrounding plant life roots discovered the new endless source of water. The ultimate clog was 3 feet of thick roots growing through that hole and up the line in the direction of the modad. Rich managed to remove the offending post and the attached fence slats (leaving the 2X4 braces in place) and the repairs guys patched up the line. Then Rich re-located the post a couple of feet over and had the fence up and functional again by the time I got home. Since the problem was so localized we managed to get out for about half of the original estimate. My job when I got home was to repair the electric wire at the bottom of the fence that had be cut for repair purposes and fill in the hole around the modad. You see, the original modad clean out crew dug up a decent hole around the modad and left it there thinking it would be needed for the repair people. They ended up not needing to repair anything there so since they didn't dig the hole, the didn't fill it. I got to shovel dirt back in for about an hour as the mosquitoes buzzed me.

As for the dogs, no one's been trained since Tuesday when Nikita and I did some quick signals. It's been a wild week so far with not much free time. I need to do directed jumping with Shelby tomorrow to practice that one last time before our big Utility debut this weekend. I'm sure we won't qualify, but she should pass at least half the exercises. Nikita is getting to come along and do Rally Excellent. She seemed to enjoy rally so much at our show in May I figured I'd go one and show her more in rally. Cheryl and Bernie are coming Saturday night to share the hotel room with us so they can show Sunday. Rosey has Red entered too.


I had Sparkle weighed since heartworm pill time is next week. She's 12.5 pounds. When I checked the mail today I got a nice package. The Christmas pictures are here! 


I got some dog training in this afternoon. Nikita practiced articles with the whole pile. Her biggest problem is sniffing all the way around. She starts and goes about half way around and doesn't ever finish the whole circle. So as long as the scented one is in that one half she's good. Shelby once again practiced attention and signals. She's really got the utility stuff mostly down if I can just keep her from getting distracted smiling at everyone. Lego and I tried go-outs again. He's really catching on, so we're adding the turn and sit after the fence touch now.

Have I mentioned the new fencing? I don't think I have. We have decided to add another fenced area to our yard. It's going to be another wooden fence. It's really to serve 2 purposes. First to give the older dogs an area of their own where the younger bullies can't harass them and where there will be no puppy silliness to tolerate. Second to help block the view they guys currently have through the chain link of the neighbor's front yard and their unrestrained dog. I've been fondly calling it the 'retirement village'. We plan on letting Maverick and Nikita hang there and probably Bandit. Mav's around 10 and Lego picks at him some and all he wants is to be left alone. Nikita at 8 still gets around well, but Cedar's decided she's too old to be in charge. Kita disagrees of course. Bandit's getting along great at 7 and he just likes to be left to do his own thing. Lego's not good at letting him alone all the time. He'll be happy to hang with the older guys and do his own thing. The fencing guy said he should be able to start and finish next week. He's also going to repair our hurricane damaged chain link sections. 

Once these repairs are done Sparkle can have more outside time. Currently there's at least one spot damaged by falling hurricane trees that she may be able to escape from so all outside time has been supervised. She's growing so fast! I think she's around 15 pounds now, and she's looking much more coordinated and less puppy. She's also lost the puppy breath and her first couple of teeth. About 80% of the time she's started going and staring at the door when she has to go potty.

Oh, I see now that the Southwest Tracking Club has updated their Results page with pictures from the Nov. 12th tracking test. Below is the one of Lego and the judges and tracklayer after he passed. The judges are on each side and the tracklayer's in the back.

***photo credit to STA***


Thanksgiving for us was chicken tacos with no lettuce or tomato (stores all closed..none at home) for lunch and Lone Star for dinner. We brought home a tiny nibble of steak for each 'kid' and I told them all Happy Thanksgiving as I doled it out. I'm sure they didn't care what the occasion was all they cared was there was steak bites. We spent the rest of our day replacing the 'doggy jungle gym' with the new and improved doggy deck. The old one was getting rickety and we were afraid some dog might get hurt. As you can see from the photo, the doggies gave their approval.

the doggy deck

We ventured out this morning to a couple of less popular Christmas shopping stores. We needed dog food, so we went by Petsmart. Going to the back of the store to the food took us by a clearance isle. In the middle of the isle, popped up for all to see was a designer soft crate. It just so happened it was just the right size for Sparkle. Of course, there was no posted price. I drug it up to the cash register and asked. It's never hurt to ask. It was on clearance for 39 dollars. So, Sparkle has a cute little pink crate awaiting her when she grows up some.


Well, Thanksgiving plans had to be canceled today. Our modad (that's a personal sewer system) decided to begin malfunctioning. It seems the exit run-off line may be busted. It's not completely non-functioning, but I had to call my family and tell there wasn't enough sewer capacity for company. We should be getting an estimate soon on a line repair and a date to be done. Not looking forward to that one. Guess it's Thanksgiving for just the two of us unless we can throw together a trip to Memphis.

Since I had to be home by lunch to meet the sewer people for an evaluation, I just took the rest of the day off. This gave me a chance to get some training in. I pulled out the gloves for Lego and Nikita. Lego practiced in the back yard closest to the neighbor's yard. I do this on purpose with him to help work on the 'when we're working you have to concentrate on the task at hand and not the universe around'. He's very distracted by the neighbors or their dog going by. He did glove 3 great the first try shaking all the way back. Glove number 2 we heard a noise at the neighbors and he forgot himself. We reset and he did it OK. Then one more brain disconnect the first try on glove 1 and he settled in well. Nikita did 3 and 1 great, but wouldn't do 2. Guess it looked too easy. It took a couple of tries to to get her to go straight out to it. When she did she got a tuna snack and I went in and left her to do as she pleased. Which turned out to be trying to get into the plastic 20 ounce Dr. Pepper that one of the sewer people set down and left behind.

I also had time to make all the 'kids' their new stockings for Christmas. We bought some tiny ones at Wal-Mart and they just needed their names put on them in glitter.


I got the articles out for Nikita today. I decided since she's entered in Utility A in December I should stretch her a bit more on them. I put the whole pile out. She actually did fairly well sniffing through them. She chose the right article but was too unsure of herself to bring it back so she wandered in circles carrying it. She finally dropped it and I went and picked it up and patted her on the head and told her she would've been right. I reset her and we tried again. She was right again and brought it back a bit hesitantly. Then we did the leather article. She got it right the first try too, but still returned slow. A couple more tries with big parties and treats and she was getting more confident. When I put them up we then did a quick stand for exam because I noticed at the run through the other night she thought she should be done after the effort on articles. Lego got to use the articles too. He actually made an effort to sniff them all. He would pause hovering over the scented one and look up at me for reassurance. We're getting there. Then Shelby practiced signals and stand. We are trying to improve her attention. She still needs help there.

Another great thing happened today. The photographer (Santa pictures) replied to my email with a digital copy of the picture she took of us with Santa and the 'kids'. So now I have a preview of what our pictures may look like. I'm so excited. This picture was great!


After Pet Therapy this morning we ran a bunch of errands today. One took us by Petsmart where we saw one of Sparkle's brothers. He'd been adopted and then returned already. Rich and I bought him a special collar and leash to take with him to a new and better home. He made Sparkle look like a midget. He had to be at least 5 pounds heavier than her. When we got back from errands I had a surprise package from Southwest Tracking Association. It was a framed replica of our TD track. I was elated. 


Well, where to start? Seems time has flown by since my last entry. This week Misty let Sparkle snooze on the same pillow with her, and just this afternoon so did Lego. I have some pictures of this to post when I find the time to get them off the camera. This 'baby' at home thing seems to suck a lot of computer time away from me. It's hard to watch her and use the computer. Especially with all the wires she could chew on in the office.

Sparkle has been allowed free run of the back yard every afternoon (under supervision) this week. She loves it. All she wants to do is run, run, run and then chew on a stick. All the guys seem OK with her running the yard with them. She mostly does her own thing, although she tries to engage someone in chase at least once. If they refuse she's good about tripping off somewhere else. I introduced her to Mr. Electric fence this week too. Unlike many pups we've brought home, it doesn't seem to spook her at all to get a little zap. She yipes once and then just trots off all indignant like. Most pups get scared and run to me to be comforted and make sure everything is still right in the universe. I'm not sure she's figured out it's that wire at the bottom of the fence nipping her or not, but she seems to understand something about getting too close to the fence sets it off. She's also catching on to holding her sit (or down) more than a millisecond to get a reward. I praise the action but I now count to 2 before the treat appears. I also am teaching her the treat is not the end of the behavior. She seems to understand this on the sit, but still wants to pop up out of the down as soon as the food's in her mouth.

Sparkle kills the ball

Monday night my contact class seemed to go well again. One student even said she thought her dog's performance was already improving. I took Sparkle and Josie along. Josie got to play agility some after class. She had great enthusiasm, and I managed to get her to NOT do her A-Frame contact. YAY! Now I know how to work on fixing this problem that's only been occurring at shows. She also got to see one of her favorite people there at class. She got all beside herself squirming and squealing happily at them. Sparkle said HI to the teeter and baby dogwalk and got to chase Josie through a short, straight tunnel.

On the serious training front, Shelby practiced signals Wednesday and did very well. Nikita practiced articles. I added another couple to the pile. Now there's 4 of each plus the scented one. This seemed to set her back some as she had trouble remembering to sniff every one. She was successful on the third try though. That brought her confidence back up. Lego played with the gloves. LITERALLY. I sent him out to retrieve one and he'd race out there and snatch it up and shake it 'to death' and the way back to me. Then he'd toss it one the ground at my feet and dig at it. Very hard not to laugh. Ok, so he only got the treat when he was holding the glove and sitting in front of me, but if he keeps the comic routine up AND he makes it to show in utility, some judges will have their laugh suppression tested to the max.

Tonight I took the girls out to the obedience training area. Classes are over for the year, but there's usually someone out to help you with Open/Utility. I figured no one would show up but me since the temperature was dropping into the 40s. I was right. The obedience director spent some concentrated time with me and the girls. I am using way too much body motion to get them to do things. Instead of just a hand signal, I am twisting my torso to encourage them. I need to work on this something awful. It was good to get them in a new environment to try their training out. Mostly I was glad for the actual ring gate to go out to. Neither one of them was great, but Nikita did surprisingly well. She needed help with signals, but it was dim lighting and I had on a grey coat. She did very well on articles her first time to do them away from home. We did them closer in than actual utility showing would allow, and we only did 3 of each plus the scented. She was wrong the first time, but right the next two times. She actually did gloves OK even though she had trouble seeing them on the concrete. Her stand for exam was good. Her go-outs required a fair amount of help. She wasn't ready to do them at that distance yet, and she was unsure where to go to as I don't have a ring gate at home. The directed jumping part needed a refresher course too, but she got it. Shelby did her wide heeling again. Of course, the obedience director said it's my fault. She says I walk into her instead of a straight line. She did fine on her signals when she was looking at me. She's always bobbling her head about instead of focusing on me. Her articles we OK. She wasn't sure what game we were playing at first. Then she brought back the wrong one (lack of sniffing). She settled down and got the right one, but wanted to return it to the 'judge'. Finally she remember me standing over there and brought it in. The next time out she got the right one and brought it to ME. All of this is actually good since it's what happens to me in the ring. I got some good advice to help her attention. She was enthusiastic for the gloves, but only wanted to bring back the middle one at first. Once again, my fault it seems. I am flinging my arm out spastically to signal her to retrieve. I need a slower, more fluent motion. She had similar issues to resolve on the go-outs and directed jumping as Nikita. But, her stand for exam was fine.


Just back from the Houston tracking test. Lego passed his TD track this morning. I wouldn't say it was with flying colors, but he made it all the way. He still danced at the corners forever. He gave the gallery of spectators heart failure at every turn. Thankfully since he's done this dance frequently at turns recently I didn't completely lose it. I did feel that awful queasy feeling at the start though. Once we made it through the first couple of turns with me repeating in my head "Trust your dog, trust your dog"  and we weren't blown off yet I began to calm down into the normal routine. The club holding the test took our picture with the judges and tracklayer after we passed. It will probably be on their website. I'll let you know. Thanks to Cheryl for riding along and keeping me from getting hopelessly lost in Houston. She took some pictures of our track too.

I know the way!

Where'd they go?


We stayed long enough to see all the TD dogs and one TDX. Then we raced home for Santa pictures.

We made Santa pictures with time to spare. The volunteers were all so excited to see us there. I had emailed them to let them know I was gonna be out of town. So they'd all been bummed as they learned we weren't coming. Cheryl showed up with Bernie just in time to help wrangle a couple of the guys. I think the picture's gonna be great. It should be back by December, so check the main page then for a link. After we took one of the kids the photographer begged us to get in the picture so she could take one. We did and I think they all looked at the camera when the volunteers jiggled bells and squeaked squeakies. I don't know if we'll get a copy of that one or not. I may email and ask for a digital one.


Josie and Lego both seem to be back to 100% now. Here's a shot Rich took of us sleeping in on Monday.

Sparkle had her first big visit to the vet. We got her rabies shot and got her microchipped. We also discovered ear mites and tapeworm. She's gained 2.5 pounds since her first weigh in a couple of weeks back. The vet says he'll be surprised if she makes 20 pounds. We were also figuring her to be a small size beagle. While we were there Misty had her stitches out. Everything healed perfect there. You can't even see a scar.

We had a breakthrough again this week with Sparkle. Misty decided she was well behaved enough to play with. It was so cute watching our 11 year old pouncing and playing so energetically with a baby.

I got a heads up to be sure and have my rabies certificates for my dogs in Texas this weekend. Seems they may be under a rabies quarantine order there. I got a copy of Lego's while I was a the vet and I put it with Sparkle's and never took them out of the car.  I'm looking forward to the tracking this weekend even though I tried to disable myself yesterday morning. I thought the moon was plenty bright at 5:30 AM to not need a flashlight to walk across the patio to put dogs up. I did fine on the way to the side yard, but on the way back the wooden steps jumped in front of my right shin. I nailed myself good on the bottom corner and ended up sprawled on the concrete moaning in agony. I hobbled into the bedroom and thankfully Rich was already up so I didn't wake him. I looked down and there was blood running from my shin and knee. Seems when I hit the concrete my weight was on my right knee and then it slid along until I was flat. Rich washed me up and we found the monster bandages. It still feels like someone hit a line drive baseball into my shin, and my knee is irritated because I have to use it to walk. Today is better and I think I'll be able to be dragged through a field by Sunday. I might take the bandages off tonight and see just how bad it is.

On the training front, Lego worked articles again on Tuesday. He needs encouragement to sniff them all before making a decision, but not awful overall. Today he and Shelby tried signals. Both of them did excellent. Shelby's heeling was even very nice. Oh yeah, I ordered a second set of articles so I can show Nikita and Shelby in Jackson in December in Utility A.


I was up so much last night with Lego that I didn't know which way was up this morning. I ended up staying home with my sick 'kid'. He seemed better by lunch time and was interested in eating the pizza crust from lunch. He didn't throw up any today either. He ate his dinner tonight although not as animated as usual. I'm saying now he's on the mend. But, Josie refused her dinner tonight and she was sluggish and just wanted to sleep. So, it seems whatever was wrong with Lego wasn't related to him eating something bad, but rather a doggy 'bug' that's going around. Josie doesn't seem as affected by it as Lego was. She's not puking or anything. I can take her to work tomorrow to monitor her.

I did get in a little obedience practice with the girls between rain storms. We tried go-outs and directed jumping. Shelby was first. She did a slow and hesitant go-out and then took whichever jump struck her fancy. I reset her and tried again. This time her go-out was much more confident and she remembered to watch me for the signal on which jump to take. She was just a bit rusty, but pulled it together nicely. Then I got Nikita out. She had a wonderful go-out the first time. She did the hover sit and never quite got her butt all the way down, but she took the appropriate jump. The second try she laid down out by the fence instead of a sit. But, once again she happily followed the hand signal for the jump. I gave her lots of treats for jumping and not avoiding them.

The first class in my series on contacts was tonight. The field was a bit wet and only 3 of my students showed up. I thought it went OK though. And Sparkle got her first trip to the practice field. She met a couple of Boxers,  two German Shepherds, a Border Collie and a Papillion. She was not too intimidated with all the big dogs, and she really like the Pap. She's already just a tad bigger than it. 


Lego and I went tracking this Saturday morning with John and Khay and Cheryl and Bernie. Lego ran his track first and man are his turns still ugly! He pulls great down the straight lines. Then at turns it's almost like he thinks when the scent turns he's allowed to goof off as he hunts for the next leg and find out what other creatures have been by recently. He did eventually make it down the track without me having to set him back on it though. After tracking, Josie and I took Sparkle to her first nursing home visit. She was a big hit and even sat politely in a couple of old lady's laps. Later Shelby did signals. She is rusty here again. Seems I've been doing a lot of gloves and heeling.

I got a shot of Sparkle playing tug with Jedi's tug leash. She loves tug.

Today after church we had brunch with some friends we haven't seen in awhile. It was nice. When we got home I let Lego and Josie in the house with Misty. Lego seemed a bit sluggish. Then he didn't even get up when Rich went in the kitchen to make food. Very odd! He even turned down his dinner tonight. This is a bit scary. Lego not eating is like a snow storm in July in Louisiana. And it would be just before this tracking test we managed to get into in Houston. He's started throwing up some, but he's still drinking and urinating. Now I'm on the watch for a bowel movement. If he's not better tomorrow he'll be going in for a check although I'm not sure there's much they can do for him unless his intestines are blocked. Maybe he can go to work with me in the morning for observation. 


Even more good news! The lump we removed from Misty came back benign. Whew!

Misty knows how to raise puppies up to be polite members of the pack too! Probably the only time we see her make an ugly face.

Some of the guys were chilling in the 'doggy jungle gym' and Rich snapped a good shot.

Sparkle continues to eat much better and Rich says she's growing, but I can't tell.


Nikita tried gloves again today and she was right on the mark this time. She was a bit goofy about her retrieves, but got the right glove each time. Once she ran out to the glove and did the butt tucked boot scootin' run around the glove a couple of times before picking it up. Too funny! Then Lego and I did some go-outs. He's getting the idea of what I want and is even going out straight. The only problem comes if he can't find the treat on the fence post right away. Then he turns on search mode and starts sniffing around ignoring me. Sparkle and I did puppy push-ups (sit - down- sit) for the first time. Actually it was the first time we've tried a down at all. She's pretty bright and has figured out this treat thing. She's still a bit pushy with the older guys sometimes. I still hear lots of warning growls when she's pouncing, but overall she's learning the ropes pretty well.

Tonight was the annual Overcome meeting. We had 7/8 attendance. The organization for our March trial seems to be right on track and we voted Cheryl in as a new member. I was elected president as well as treasurer. I was hesitant to be president last year because I wasn't sure what would be involved. Since Meg is in the process of moving to Houston I've been helping out with her presidential duties and it's not too scary.



1st-Happy Birthday Josie

Today is the day we celebrate Josie's birthday. She's three today. So now we can finally get that final USDAA measurement and get a permanent card.

Good news on the Misty front. She's doing great and not bothering her stitches at all. They aren't red or irritated or swollen either.

More good news... I heard from the tracking trial secretary that Lego made it in the draw for the trial in Houston November 12th. YIPPIE! I think it'll be a nice site for him. Now just pray for good weather and please let Lego track to his full potential that day.

Shelby did gloves today and got them down perfect the first time. I need to go fill out her entries for the first weekend in December. I think Nikita should got and do Rally Excellent too.

As for the business situation, October was a record collection month!