2009 training goals

November 2009

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I got in some more utility article work with Kamikaze. She starts quitting on me if the correct one is off to the side a bit from the pile. She never searches it. We worked on that a bit and she seemed to start stretching her search circle some. Since I was doing articles I pulled out Xanadu's set too. I have started putting two leather and two metal out there as well as the correct one. So, she's started to have to distinguish between surfaces as well now. She is actually doing pretty OK at it. She does know to put her nose down on them to pick up scents now, but sometimes chooses to try an easier way and just bring one to me. There is a bit of a struggle if the correct one is metal now that we have leather ones in the pile too. Not sure why it's not as confusing if the correct one is leather to have metal ones out there. She is still not making a pattern of sniffing when she gets out there, it's more random than methodical. She is, however, NOT quitting on me if she brings back the wrong one a couple of times in a row and thus gets no reward. It's starting to sink it that her choice dictates the reward and it's not me being random. Sometimes she finds the right one and races back to me after sniffing it leaving out the step of actually bringing it. That's too funny. She knows which one it is and then wants her treat for figuring it out. I simply say 'You have to bring it', and point back at the pile and she races back and snatches it up. I made her session brief and then worked on some signals. She really does the down signal well, but the sit one escapes her most of the time. This was really her first intro to the come signal, so I used words with it.


Rich and I took Sparkle, Xanadu and Kamikaze out to Port Hudson State Park for a couple of hours worth of hiking/strolling. They had a great time and Kamikaze even got some off leash hiking time and did just fabulous staying on the trail and waiting for us when she got too far ahead. As we strolled along outside the wooded areas it occurred to me that there was some awesome tracking space for TD's and TDX's out there. Wonder if any tracking buddies would be up for meeting there one Sat or Sun when it gets nice and cool and spending the afternoon or morning chatting and tracking?


I laid Xanadu a three turn (arc) track in the front yard yesterday. She was an ace at it. So I got brave and laid her one in the neighbor's front yard. She stunk that one up. The grass was a bit shorter and there's the problem of the neighbor's dog's smells too. Here I thought she was getting it. She may be getting it, but no distractions allowed right now I guess. I then took  Sparkle out and met up with Cheryl and her two guys. I laid Grace a track that went through the woods a few steps and then through a gate. That's her first intro to TDX style obstacles. Cheryl laid Sparkle a track in a field that skirted the woods. That kind of track is Sparkle's downfall. She quits tracking human and the critter mode takes over. Mike came  out and laid cross tracks for Sparkle and a short track for Bernie. Bernie spotted some trash in the middle of his field and decided he could 'view' his track and not sniff it. Cheryl stuck to her spot and made him track. When he finally figured sight seeing wasn't getting him anywhere he tracked like a champ. Grace made short work of her more difficult track. Sparkle did well until we got to skirting the woods. Then she quit on me and crittered along right over the finish glove.

Today I laid a track for Khayenne while we were out shopping this morning. Met up with John and Khay around 1pm to run the track he laid for Lego. Lego was just terrible until the last couple of legs. He was hunting critters and sniffing other dog scents and missing articles. ARGH! Guess I need to get him out tracking more again  if I want to enter our trial in March. Khay had some just beautiful moments and then some blonde moments on her track. 

While we were out this morning I bought myself a Ripstick for Christmas. I can now propel it in a mostly straight line, but not much on turning it yet.


We ended up staying here in town for Thanksgiving. It was a nice relaxing time.  We ate at Rich's office manager's house and spent a couple of hours over there. She has a sixth grade age son with lots of 'toys'. I got to ride his dirt bike, his Mongoose and try out a Ripstick. Ok, so the Ripstick didn't go so well. I did eventually get it to roll without losing my balance and falling over, but I never got the hang of propelling it.

I have done a bit of utility work  with Kamikaze recently. She seems to be making friends with articles again, but I really need to work go-outs. Sparkle needs more Open practice too.


Cheryl  and I were up early enough to have a sit down breakfast. Across the street from the hotel was a Cracker Barrel and a Waffle House. Cheryl picked Cracker Barrel. "They'll have more I can eat.", she said. That turned out to be the first laughable statement of the day. The first two times she tried to order they were like "Sorry, we're out of that." We still got to the show site with lots of time to spare. Kamikaze had a nice standard run with only one bobble. After the dogwalk she went and kissed the bar setter. It didn't result in a fault though. So she pulled out her second AX leg. Then the results printed out. She was printed in B instead of A. I went to talk to the trial secretary again. It was just in time as the judge was just checking the sheets. How does Kamikaze keep getting put in the wrong place even after I checked it all out before the trial yesterday? the judge heard the discussion and said she'd come back later to check the sheets.  It did get resolved, and I was able to tell the lady how to view something before printing it since she didn't know you could do that. After all that Lego had a just disgusting standard run. We only made it to obstacle five and he'd blown me off three or four times by then. When I called it quits he tried to play 'can't touch me' for a minute or so. Not the dog I had yesterday or one I need to see again soon. Excellent jumpers was about an hour later. Kamikaze had a very nice run on a course I didn't think I'd get her around, much less her hit that weave entrance. Only one time was there a panic voice. She got her 6th MXJ leg and 5 MACH points. Much more the dog I need if I ever plan on having 750 points.

Then, of all the things, Lego laid out a 25 second excellent jumpers run. Not a foot out of place and the only issue was him hitting the second pole instead of the first on the weave entrance. I never pictured him even trying to get in at that angle, so as disappointing as it was to just have that one fault, I was extremely happy. It was the run of his life and a great one to end on. Someone even commented it was the best run they've seen me do with any dog. Of course, they haven't seen me that much, but still a great compliment for him. I pointed out to Cheryl as we were walking it (since Bernie moved up from yesterday she was out there with me) to watch how different a style I was going to use to try getting Lego around that ugly course than anyone else used, or even I used with Kamikaze. I didn't see another soul do what I did with Lego, but as I point out to people, some of this game is "Know thy dog."

Cheryl and Grace had the one bar issue in both runs, but did the weaves the first try on both of them. ARGH! So close.


Cheryl  and I had a nice dark and rainy drive to Lake Charles this morning. The guys all road together fine. That new arena was very nice. We got there in plenty of time to get all our stuff set up and dogs settled. Then I went hunting for a running order for the weekend to be sure Kamikaze got put in all the right classes since three different confirmations were wrong.  I figured no need to bother the new trial secretary if it was all fine. They had no idea what I was looking for and didn't have one.  So, off to find the trial secretary. I find her and ask if I can just be sure that my dog is entered in the right classes in the computer. She pulled up Kamikaze and on the screen all looked well. Good. We had our first run, Excellent Standard, and it wasn't bad. She missed the weaves, but not for running by them like she didn't see them. She was sure the next correct obstacle was the Aframe instead of the weaves, so by the time she realized she was wrong, she was past any possible entrance. It was her only miss on the weaves all weekend. Lego had a pretty nice Standard run. He got distracted when the course got in a corner, no surprise there, but he came back and worked great. Even hit the weaves, but for some reason only did 10. Xanadu had loads of fun on her Novice Jumpers run. That was what I wanted to see! We didn't Q because jumping was optional occasionally. It was way fun to just run. One very nice thing about her run was the weaves. She nailed them the first try and bounced them fast. Too bad I tried to push across the weaves early and pushed her out of the last pole. We went back to do them and she nailed them again. 

Then I get stopped by a familiar person who wanted to know if Kamikaze was in Preferred. WHAT? 'No, why?' "They had her in preferred" How did that happen between me seeing the entries on the screen and now?  The  person made sure it got fixed before jumpers. Kamikaze had a decent jumpers run, but still wide turns. She Q'd just under time for her 5th MXJ leg. Lego had another respectably nice run in Jumpers. I am pleased with him today. On to FAST. Kamikaze nailed the send portion even with me two jumps behind and 20 feet away. She got 68 points for second place and her last Excellent Fast leg, her XF title!

Bernie had a stellar day getting his OJP title and his second XF leg. Cheryl can't remember the last time he Q'd twice in one day.


Xanadu and Sparkle went out to obedience class tonight. Both of them had very nice heeling after having struggled from lack of practice the last few times. Of course, I'm sure the chicken strip and leftover hamburger patty helped remind them. They both did nice drop on recall and retrieve on flat with the hardest part of both exercises being the wait for me to give the command to go. Then Sparkle did a three minute out of sight stay the first try. After that I called it a night although there was still 20 minutes left of classes. It was chilly, and both girls had given an extraordinary effort. If I've learned anything over the years, it's to not keep on going past their point of desire and interest.

I am picking Cheryl and  her two guys up EARLY Saturday morning so we can all head to an agility trial in Lake Charles. Five dogs and two people with overnight bags. Should be 'friendly'. I am looking forward to a fun weekend of agility!

AKC has now officially recorded Kamikaze's tracking title. I am so thrilled. There was always this thought in the back of my mind that something may go wrong recording it.  Silly thought, but one I have frequently for tracking titles. I guess because they are so few and far between I'd hate to have to pass again because of some stupid error.  


I took Lego, Kamikaze and Xanadu out to the agility field tonight for a quick practice before the show this weekend. I couldn't get Lego to pick up any speed out there. He was very distracted, and pokey, but did it all. Even weaves several times. Not sure how helpful that will be though since at shows he's usually running all out. Xanadu did the tire, double, and all the contacts even though she's only entered in jumpers. She also did all 12 weaves several times with varying difficulty of entries. She did great! She's driving through the pole and doing an off-side entry at a 90 degree turn off the dogwalk. Good girl!  She did have a couple of stumbles near the end of the weaves where she quit thinking about them because she could see the table. She's one of the only dogs I know that blows the end of the weaves looking forward to the table. Most young guys do that if there is an inviting tunnel entrance ahead. Kamikaze did all the contacts and the weaves too. I also worked some handling for my sake. I am finally starting to understand how to communicate with her about wrapping and about me fading so she turns easily as she jumps.


Today was the doggie picture with Santa. It went very well this year. The kids were great. Can't wait to see the picture. Should have it back by the first week of December.  We were also interviewed by WVLA news 33 while we were there. Everyone was impressed with the training and manners of my guys.


We had planned to rip up the carpet in the motor home today and lay linoleum self stick tiles in there instead. We didn't get but one small strip by the door up and we discovered some damage. It seems the outside electrical outlet is not sealed well and is allowing water to seep in around it. Unfortunately, it's situated so that the leak was under a cabinet and went undiscovered  for quite some time.  It has definitely destroyed the carpet, and maybe some of the floor. We decided that was a good reason to take it to Dixie and have them repair the problem and damage. They're also replacing carpet with self stick linoleum strips of the faux wood variety. While they have it they will perform a thorough systems check and change oil and filter on the generator as well as the engine too.


Kamikaze played articles again today. She was much better, and more herself. Sparkle and Xanadu did some heeling work. Both were doing much better than they've done in the last month or so. They were even keeping up well on the outside of the figure eight.


I worked Kamikaze on articles some today. She seems a bit rusty on sniffing them all to find the right one and is trying to quit if she doesn't immediately find it. I got out the really high  value stuff and that helped up the enthusiasm. She did much better. While I was doing articles I pulled out Xanadu's and we tried the three of the same type game again. It's been a while since she's practiced articles, but she did very well. She's starting to really catch onto the game and is beginning to sniff and get excited when she finds the right one. More than five or six tries and she wears out on it though. I am pleased that as little as I pull them out, she is remembering some from one time to the next. Don't know how I forgot that it was obedience class night, but I did. Oops. Well, I spent the evening starting preparations for the end of year awards for the obedience club. I am the volunteer for ordering them.


I did just some heeling work with Kamikaze, Sparkle and Xanadu. Kazee is doing well with sticking close and watching. The beagles, not so much. I'm a bit disappointed in the work ethic I got from them today. Later this evening I took Xanadu to the agility field. We practiced weaves and teeters mostly. She still have one moment of 'weave, what's that'. But, it was only one and afterward she nailed them and was moving faster in them than I've ever seen her do anywhere.  Hoping she gets her NAJ next weekend in Lake Charles. That's the only thing she's entered in. This Sunday is doggie pictures with Santa.

9th -One for the history books

When I checked email last night I found one from Khloe's (Kazee's sister in GA) mom. Khloe got her first conformation point this weekend. That's so awesome considering the struggle they've had getting her to not freak out. It was a great weekend for the breeder for sure. She even put in an inquiry with AKC to find out how many VCD2 Siberians there are. The answer came back..... WE ARE THE FIRST! WOWZERS! Kamikaze and I got a first in the breed. The breeder is gonna shout it from the mountain tops I'm sure. I'll even smile and say thanks.

I went to the DMV first thing this morning to replace my license. I was shocked at how easy that turned out to be. Thanks Louisiana for making something easy. Just to top my weekend, I almost immediately get pulled over. Really? Supposedly I made an illegal U turn. OK, lets just say here that I've lived in the is town for like 12 years and EVERYONE makes a U turn there and it's never been illegal before. Guess I missed the shiny new sign hanging up that says NO U TURN. The cop was kind and let me go with a warning, so I guess it could've been worse.


I wish I could say I got a good nights sleep in preparation for the tracking test today, but that would be entirely false. I did get about 5 hours though. Enough to get by. We were packed up and checked out of the hotel with just a little time to spare. Of course, Kamikaze decides she's not going to poop before we leave for the test. Just like her to add more stress to me. <snicker> We didn't participate in the draw since Kamikaze is in season. We got handed the last track. Not too awful. There are only two ahead of me and the weather isn't warming up too fast. And it seems the predicted rain is going to hold off until late in the afternoon. After the draw we head to the fields. A Welsh Terrier struggled on turn three in a pretty decent breeze and ended up choosing the wrong way. As the judges make their way back out of the field and on to the next one I got Kamikaze out for one more chance to potty. FINALLY she takes care of all her business, so at least there won't be that distraction on the track. I got her back in the car in time to jog up to the gallery and watch the young Bernese start like gang busters. That dog almost sprinted the whole track dragging poor mom behind. Just at the last turn, a heartbreaker, they overshoot the turn a good bit and with the breeze they can't seem to work back far enough to pick up that last leg. BUMMER. My heart is racing somewhat as I get Kamikaze out of the car and sit and pet her while we wait for the judges. Someone says. "Well, it's up to you guys now!". ACK, not what I need to hear. The judges ask me if I'm ready and I stand up and make my way to the start flag. As I put Kazee's harness on I tell her I know she can do this and kiss her on the head. I clipped the line on the harness and said "Let's go, Tally HO." She splashed up to the start flag with her nose down. Then she just kept right on walking. I was a bit unnerved as she usually goofs around a bit at the start and then throws herself into the harness to track. As we approached the 30 yard flag she threw her head up once. OH, NO, here we go. But, it was only a brief wind check and then she pulled into the harness nose down. At the first turn, she made a nice arc to the right and I held back waiting for her typical dance at the corner. She stuck to her decision and never checked back. OK. I'm still a bit unnerved as this is NOT typical. We are now heading to the road so I know the next turn is left, away from the start and the road. She had a bit more trouble deciding just where the turn was on that one, but it was obvious when she made her decision. We aren't headed in that direction very long it seemed before I see the turn posture again. Not much searching and we are headed back to the woods. The last part of this short leg was very wet. I know the next turn has to be right because of the lay of the land. She starts to appear a bit lost and hunting in the middle of this ankle deep swampy area. She kind of arcs to the right then pulls on one side of a tree just to wrap around it tightly and head back towards the road (the direction we came from). I know she is searching, and logically I know on this kind of ground condition I should see deep footprints  exiting the swamp as I am leaving deep prints. I don't see any though. I have to go with her around the tree so we don't get wrapped up. The swampy area is fading as she heads back to the road and then she makes a sudden left turn. I know that has to be the direction of the turn, and she seems sure of herself. I have to jog out of the swamp as she starts pulling. I see what I knew I should be seeing as I line up behind her, clear deep footprints. She's got it! She's really pulling for what seems like forever... 150 yards or so at best guess. I know now the glove must be close. She hesitates once and glances over her shoulder as if to say "Is this ever gonna end? Why is there no turning?" I give her my encouraging, confident phrase, "Atta girl!"  and she drops back into her harness. Then it happens.. a quick turn and sit and stare at me wagging the tail. I run up to her, and YES there is a glove. GOOD GIRLIE. Ok, so her indication is supposed to be a down, but it was very wet, and I'll take a solid indication of any sort right now. I gave her a hug and hold the glove up for all to see. And there was great rejoicing! That gives her the VCD2 title! What a day. I get my glove signed and we make it home before dark without incident. BTW: A look at our map shows that last leg to be 180 yards. 


I arrived in Houston last night. There were no incidents to speak of on the drive, but I just hate driving in Houston. I was glad to get to the hotel and get checked in and settled. This morning we were up bright and early to hit the conformation show for Xanadu's ring time at 8 am. There was only one other bitch entered, but a major in dogs. For some reason I can't picture, other than color prejudice, Xanadu got beat by the other bitch. That put me done for the day at 9 am with two dogs that had been in the car way too much. I found a hiking trail head and inquired with some exiting ladies. It sounded like a perfect exercise opportunity. A three mile hike in and then back out with a picnic break at 1.5 miles. The girls and I enjoyed our hike through the woods immensely. At the break point I could tell Kamikaze was hot, so we stopped and rested a bit and then just went back out. I took a couple of great pictures to post too. After lunch I noticed a gorgeous dog park. Even though I knew Kamikaze couldn't play because she was in season, I was curious to see what Xanadu would do. Xanadu did the predictable beagle thing and precede to basically ignore dogs and head straight to the fence line. I sat kind of in the middle and watched her wander along the fence sniffing. About half way around she did look up to see where I was, and she did wander back to me. After inspecting all the fencing she found a little time to play with some of the other dogs. I knew she must be tired from our 3 mile hike too. Headed back to the car. See all doors unlocked. That's odd, I'm not usually that stupid. I took off for the hotel. When I reached to grab my purse to go in the room I couldn't seem to find it. I tore the car apart before I realized not only could I not find my purse, but my camera and laptop are missing too (therefore no pictures posted). ARGH! I'm now hundreds of miles from home with an empty gas tank and no money. Quite a panic feeling. After freaking and such, I realize I can get gas with my Exxon Speedpass that's attached to my keys. I promptly do that while Rich is at home calling credit cards to have them cancelled. I get the bank on the phone to deal with stolen checks and debit card. Meg, a friend in Houston, agrees to meet me for dinner, her treat of course, and hand me some cash for the trip home tomorrow. God bless dog people friends! Before bed I had a talk with Kamikaze about salvaging something good from our trip by passing her tracking test in the morning.   Something positive to consider... Cheryl and Grace got there first herding Q this weekend :)


Kamikaze  went in season right on schedule the beginning of the week. She should be just finished in time to run agility in Lake Charles in a couple more weeks. This does mean , however, that she will not be in the draw for tracks on Sunday, but will be assigned the last TD track of the day. Thankfully I believe there are only 3 TD dogs entered. Hopefully it won't be too hot by her turn. It's supposed to be in the mid 70s in Houston this weekend.  Bummer that I'll be missing Cheryl and Grace's debut in herding this weekend her in Louisiana.


I spent some time with Kamikaze working on going out to a target. Then I did a bit of heeling work. I was intent on keeping her close and her attention up on me. Lastly a little work on straight fronts from odd angles. She did very well. Sparkle got some heeling and stay work. I almost got her back to heeling nicely even in the figure eight.. She did her 3 minute sit stay perfectly too. While I was working Sparkle Xanadu was fussing in the house. I guess she wanted her turn to earn treats. I took her out and worked heeling attention. She is slow to take off when I say heel and she needs lots of work on figure eight. I pulled out the jump and broad jump for her too. She did the broad jump right 90% of the time without the extra help of me stepping forward or throwing the treat. She has, however, forgotten to retrieve over the jump. She dodges around it on the first couple of tries to get out to the dumbbell. Ahhh the things that fall out of their heads when you don't work them for awhile. For now Xanadu needs more weave pole practice so we can think about moving to Open soon.


It was a lazy kind of day. Nice outside, but everything was just so squishy. We ended up going to see Couples Retreat with Vince Vaughn. It was amusing and occasionally laugh out loud funny. The real news of the day was Xanadu's escape. I had just had Sparkle out traipsing through the woods for fun and I decided I needed to take Lego out to potty. Now, my dogs know better than to run out of doors without being given the OK, but that doesn't mean I take it for granted with the young beagles. I had Lego on a Flexi and pushed the other beagles back a bit and told them to wait. I cracked the door and used my left foot to block the other ones as Lego went out on my right. Xanadu was intent on finding whatever Sparkle found in the woods (based on how she smelled when she got back ?). Despite my firm command and the foot blocking the door, she made a dash as I opened it. She actually tripped me up when she hit my levitated left foot. I grabbed at her with my right hand as I fell still holding tightly to Lego's Flexi. I missed and she turned to look at me sprawled on the sidewalk. "Xany, Xany, here, here" I say. She laughs and starts tracking Sparkle and my paths towards the woods. Not at a dead run or anything, but not wasting time either. I shove Lego back in the door and take off the Flexi, grab my emergency whistle and a bag of goodies, holler at Rich that she's loose. I ran out the door and followed around the front of the fence where I saw her going. There she is, not 75 feet away just at the edge of the woods. I blow my whistle, she looks up, munching something. I shake the treats and say "Come, Come." and she does. I shove treats in her mouth and leash her up as Rich comes racing out to help. She had found the just molding bread Rich threw out in the woods earlier. I took her in and gave her sausage pieces and told her how wonderful she was. She never tried to dodge me or play can't touch me.  The whole thing took maybe 45 seconds, but it left my heart racing. I don't think she'd have not come back if I was blowing the whistle and calling her in the woods, but the thought of losing her was heart wrenching. I have every intention now of doing more whistle training with the young ones. I don't think they know it as well as the older ones.