2010 training goals

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My family showed up Wednesday night for the Thanksgiving get together. Mom brought frozen homemade beef stew that we thawed out for dinner. Then my brother and I spent Thursday morning helping Mom get lunch together. Leftovers for the next several meals! Mom, brother and I made one outing Friday afternoon to Wal-Mart. It wasn't crazy. Since all the early bird sales were over and the day had been cool and rainy, most nuts had gone home by then. We picked up a couple of things and got out easily. Saturday morning I was up and out early (4:30am). I picked Cheryl and Grace up around 5am and we were off to Lake Charles. Thank goodness for an uneventful drive. We were there in plenty of time to setup crates and case the place before first runs. It was a pretty cold morning for down here, so all the beagles had their fleece on. Apparently fleece wasn't enough for Spirit. Cheryl went to check on them while I was busy and found her shaking. She rescued her and wrapped her in a coat and held her close. Thanks for good dog friends! We ended up moving all the beagles and Grace to the car parked in the sun for the rest of Saturday. That worked well for warmth. 

Kamikaze had a nice standard run Sat morning which I ruined only a few obstacles from the end. Then she had a great jumpers run for 10 more MACH points. I screwed Lego up at the same place as Kazee in standard. Guess I'm a slow learner. He had a pretty nice jumpers run, but not quite. Xanadu had a great standard run, but she wouldn't weave the first try by. The second time I asked her to weave she flew through them like the dog I know. At least she did them. I wasn't even getting weaves on second and third tries for the last few shows. Unfortunately, the staying in the car after Standard didn't seem to be the best idea for Xan. She walked jumpers that afternoon, but weaved on the first try. We just left for treats after the good weave performance. Spirit had a very nice Open Standard run with one handler induced off course to get her OA title and move up to Excellent for Sunday. She did her weaves the first try! Then she got her first Open jumpers leg. She hit the weave pole entrance, but didn't wrap to second pole and went to third pole instead. I let her finish the weaves and then we went back and started over so we ended up over time. We squeaked in with an 85.

Sunday was a much warmer day! Kamikaze started the day with a standard Q! That's only our 4th MX leg. To top off the day she Q'd in jumpers too for her second double Q! I was so nervous going in to that run that I could tell she thought I was crazy at the opening. We could've gone faster, but I was worried about the Q. I'd like to be able to cure those nerves about double Q's. Maybe after a few more it won't make me so nervous. Lego had another OK standard run and then a jumpers run that I messed up. He ran his heart out all weekend and was taking direction well. Xanadu did her weaves the first try in Standard this morning, but they weren't fast and happy. Then she went and slid off the table to ruin the Q. Darn! She was really running in jumpers, but didn't weave until the second try. I'm glad to see her doing weaves at a show site even if it takes two tries. Spirit had a great showing in Excellent Standard her first try. If it weren't for the horses behind the tunnel she'd have Q'd. She had to stop and look over her shoulder at them just before she got to the table to earn a refusal there. BUMMER! She also did very well in Open Jumpers and did her weaves the first try. She hit two bars to keep the Q away there. A plus though, a beagle breeder in Lake Charles stopped by at the end of the day just in time to see Spirit run. She was thrilled to see it and the also evaluated Spirit as a conformation girl and was very complimentary.

Grace and Cheryl had some positive points as well this weekend. Grace kept all the spread jumps up all weekend. She also got her first Open Fast leg even after making Cheryl think on her feet.


This weekend I spent catching up on things and helping Cheryl get her "to-do" list whittled down as well. Rich was out backpacking in Arkansas, so my time was all mine. Friday night I tackled some of the house tidying up that needed to be done for the family visits coming up this week. The hardest part sometimes is just picking a place to start and starting. Tidy up the living room turned into re-arrange the furniture. I have been unable to see the TV from my beloved glider rocker/recliner since we moved into this house. The sectional takes up about all the floor space. I ended up splitting the sectional up. The two ends got squished together with one middle piece. The other two middle piece got slid against the wall by the aquarium for a separate seating area. This opened up the space between the recliner and the TV nicely. Then I had to clean said recliner. Years of dust and years of Clean Run magazines have been living in it. I enjoyed my recliner again! How I've missed him. I also think the new arrangement opens up the living room feel a bit more. Moving furniture shows how much ICK accumulates under it though. GROSS! Even with sweeping the vacuum wand under it you just don't ever get it all sucked up. 

Saturday morning I got sheets washed and installed on the guest beds first thing. I took the box of solar lights out front and installed them down the path. They've been sitting around now for over a year. The kitchen table got cleaned as did the guest bathroom. As I was sitting down for my rest Cheryl called. She was almost ready for me to come over and help install the electric fence. I helped her several weeks back clear out the fence line in preparation for the electric fence wire. I knew the hardest part was going to be running insulated wire from a plug in on the patio to the fence line. I was SOOOO right. It was worse since I messed up my shoulder last weekend somehow at Mom's and Cheryl has one shoulder not wanting to cooperate all the time anyway. When we got tired of standing on the ladder tacking the insulated wire to the eves, we worked on getting her new teeter in working order. So, at least we killed two list items in one sitting. The easy part was snapping the wire holders on the fence and running the hot wire. Cheryl and I had a nice meal out to celebrate our accomplishments.

Sunday was mostly take it easy and snuggle with dogs. Xanadu and I played tug with her lizard. She seems to miss just plain ole play time. I need to remember to play with them all more. Training is some kind of play for them, but it's different when I get down on their level and play dog-type games with them.


I had to take care of some small stuff at Rich's office this morning, so while I was out I laid Lego a track to age. Then Michele let me come over at lunch and run Xanadu and Spirit through her weave poles. Both girls faltered the first try, but were really good after that. Xanadu was soaring through the weaves. Spirit, well, she was faster than she's ever been at a show in the weaves. When I went I took Lego (left him in the car) so I could go straight there to his track on the way back home. I mention to Michele I couldn't stay long because Lego's track was aging and needed to be done. She has just bought a foundation tracking book and was intrigued. I offered to let her come watch if she wanted. She brought Lucky with her to watch. Lego didn't act a fool at the start this time! Thank you! The track was four hours old and he did very well. Once again an article seems to have walked off in that field. He found one and not the other, but I never saw it either. He wanted to wag way to the left on the last leg (towards the car) and missed the glove. WOW! Can't remember a time Lego missed the glove. That's the treat dispenser. I got him to search around in the general area where I knew it must be and he found it. He did his track fast enough I had a short time to show Michele some intro basics with Lucky.

Now after work, the dreaded tidy up the house routine. Family is coming Wednesday for Thanksgiving. I think my main problem is that there just isn't a place for everything. It feels like re-arranging stuff and not putting it away. The living room tidy up became living room furniture re-arrange. It's been 6 years since I could sit in my recliner and watch TV. Problem solved, and I think the room seems bigger. And as a topper, the floors all got cleaned under the couch (since it moved). When's the last time you moved your couch and cleaned under it. ICK! Tomorrow I think I'll tackle installing the solar lights for the sidewalk we bought like 2 years ago that have just been sitting in a box. Then there's guest rooms to tackle (mostly putting on sheets and stuff like that). I am also beginning to think that the kitchen nook bench needs to go. We don't get to use it for anything but throwing stuff on at this house and it crowds the dining area. I was emotionally attached to it (spent a good while looking for what I wanted) when we moved here, but now, I think, it's time is up.


I took some time yesterday to read  another Baton Rouge agility person's blog. She's new to the sport at retirement age. Just competing with her first dog, a Papillion, and training her second, a mutt. I am proud of her for taking responsibility for her dog's training and filling in the gaps left from the classes on her own. She's also determined to make the mutt an agility dog despite some disparaging remarks by some people. Good for her!  I am also finding some of her training insights interesting as she learns her way. Just a reminder to everyone that every dog is different and may require a different approach than the last one. It also reminded me why I am so careful to not name names associated with negative encounters or names of training people I disagree with. The internet postings can be read by anyone and things get around.

I did something evil to my left shoulder this past weekend. I don't know if it was carrying dog stuff to setup or if it was lugging two 25 lb dogs (one under each arm) through my parents' house, but whatever it was is killing me. Rich worked on it before he left for his backpacking trip this morning. He didn't help, and seemed to inflame it some. He suggest going by the office and letting the girls laser it. I called his office and set up a time. Then his physical therapist offered to work on it. OH YES! She had the magic hands. Think I may head in tomorrow and let her at it again. It feels so much better.

I forced myself to load up Lego, Xanadu, Kamikaze, and Spirit after work and head out to the club agility field. I haven't been there in months. But, with Xanadu's new found weave problem at shows, but not here, I need to get her to new places to weave and see if we can work through it.Spirit needed more exposure to other weaves as well. Lego was more for security than anything even though he can use a little practice. The field is in a shady part of town, though well lit, and it getting dark really early. I started with Xan, figuring there was a good chance she would need to be put up for not running. I found a tight, nasty little jumpers course set up and numbered on the far side. That's where I headed. Xan did jump , tunnel, jump ,jump at about half speed. Then when I said weave she just put her nose down and walked the first few and then just stopped. I picked her up with out a word and carried her to the car. Lego and Spirit both got a turn. Both weaved well. Spirit did 3-5 things and then got treats. Lego started out being a distracted hound, but one collar grab was all it took to focus him. Both got the 'good' treats after their runs. Then I ask Xanadu if she wanted another chance. She stood up in the crate and came for the door. Second time was the charm. I had my agility dog back. She ran the opening through the weaves well. Her weaves weren't as good as usual, but she did them. We raced for the 'good' treats at the car. We did the weaves from the other way and she sped up to almost normal speed. WOO HOO! Kamikaze got a turn and did well, but the tight turns were really hard for us. I took them all to another part of the field with weaves set up. Xanadu did great the first time this time. More 'good' treats. Spirit struggled the first time sniffing instead of weaving. I grabbed her collar and told her 'NO" and immediately restarted the course. She was great from then on. Lego did well too. Then instead of the parts everyone else was doing, Kamikaze and I did box work. She really is getting the tighter turning in her head better now, but I MUST cue the turn early and decelerate a good ways in advance. The USDAA judge this weekend says she heard it takes 18 feet to decelerate you and the dog clearly and smoothly. I even set the bars in the box to 24" since I'm considering moving Kamikaze up to 24" in the small AKC shows around here to see if we can pick up multipliers on the MACH points. She looks just as smooth and graceful at 24" as she does at 20".


After work I took Xanadu and Spirit over to the agility field with the best doggie treats. I worked weaves with them. As expected, Xanadu is a weave machine. Races at them and flies through them. More frustration! Spirit is doing better keeping her nose up in the poles so she can bounce faster. I need to bite the bullet and take Xanadu to new places to weave again. Seems some show convinced her weaves out there would hurt or something. The things that get in their heads sometimes! I've already entered her in Thanksgiving shows and two weekends in December.


I had mixed results this weekend in Holly Springs, MS. Kamikaze ran well all weekend. My only big disappointment was not getting a tournament Q on her. She did pick up Master gamble #3, Master Jumper #4, Master Pairs #3 and an 8th Q towards Snooker Champion. The pairs leg was also Nutmeg's Platinum pairs title. Glad she didn't tell me ahead of time!  Josie ran fast and happy all weekend. I pulled her out of the weaves on Saturday in Standard or we'd have had it. Then Sunday we just weren't clicking as a team. She even stopped about 5 obstacles in to give me the 'what for' for being so unclear and choppy. We finished fairly strong though. Jedi ran well all weekend. No sprinting to corners to sniff and ignore me. He even did the gamble on Saturday, but over time be a second or two. His table was good on Sat, but he avoided it on Sunday and took the jump next to it instead.

Xanadu walked the entire Steeplechase course for 73 seconds. ARGH! And she didn't want to weave at all. The weave avoidance lasted all weekend too. So frustrating! She trotted the Grand Prix course for only 5 or so seconds over time, so better, but still bad. Sunday she had jumpers first. She took off running. YEAH! Then randomly would come to a complete stop with her nose down. She kept all the 16" bars up though and ended 2.5 seconds over time even with terrible sniffing. Unfortunately both dogs had to weave in Pairs. ACK! Thankfully she was the only little dog in Advanced Pairs, so her partner was a Border Collie that had a chance to Q with some big dog so his run with us was just for his own fun. The weaves were first thing in her half.  I was all prepared to race for treats if she weaved since it didn't matter to the other dog. But, alsa no such luck, but after them she ran like a demon child. Then last run for her was Gamblers. There was no way she was getting the gamble so I just wanted her to RUN. And boy, did she run. That's the dog I know and love. 25 seconds of sheer sprint across the dog walk, through the tunnels over jumps and Aframe (twice). At least she left the show with one last good run. Trying to decide if I should limit her entries in AKC severely until she weaves at shows again. Can't Q in AKC with no weaves, so I may just do that.

I spent this morning running Mom out to Wal-Mart and Sam's. It was a pleasant morning, but a long drive home. Spirit didn't seem too worse for the wear for having stayed home with Rich. She was happy to see me and her sisters, but Rich said she snuggled with him while I was gone and didn't act forlorn at all. I think he's secretly trying to win her over to be a 'daddy' dog!


I took the red girls out to obedience tonight. Kamikaze was so good that she was done with her session FAST! Took two tries at the drop signal, but that was her only minor stumble. Her go-outs were perfect and her directed jumping was too. Spirit work off leash heeling and it was very nice. We even snuck over to Rally class before it started and did the Rally Advanced course that was up. She did very well, but got distracted by the smallest things sometimes. Once was Cheryl and Grace walking by. Then we practiced our wait that she needs for recall. It took her several tries to hold her wait while I turned and didn't call her for 3 seconds and then returned to her. There was chicken for waiting though and she got it eventually. Spirit played a little hold the dumbbell. I can't get her to run after it while it moves like I could Xanadu and Sparkle. So, her retrieve training will be much different. It'll be more like how I had to teach Nikita. Xanadu did some go-outs. They were nice. I am trying to transition her off the food at the gate and  in to turning to look at me for it to be tossed. So, as she took off for the ring gate, I trotted behind her and when she got to the gate I'd say "YES" and  I still ended up having to touch her butt to get her to turn. She was busy searching for her treat. She's getting it though! Her directed jumping was perfect this time with only a bit of leaning. She didn't struggle with the shadow of the bar at all, but I did have the bar in a different place and I think there was less shadow. Xan also got a whirl at articles at the training lot. She still struggles to turn and send. I am helping her go with a little pressure on her collar as we turn. She is making an attempt at sniffing, but giving up quickly. She did get both a metal and leather correctly with a couple of tries. We're still not quite up to the full pile though. I was pleased with training tonight.

Bern had a very nice Open practice. It went fast, so although I didn't see it all, I know it was good. He did his retrieves the first command happy and fast. Cheryl was thrilled as  he is entered in an obedience show this weekend. I'm really hoping (and thinking) he may come home with his CDX! 

Meanwhile, I'll be loading up the car tomorrow and heading out to Memphis. I'll be at USDAA agility. If all the stars align just right and all my Master level guys can Q in Standard both days I could come home with an ADCH Josie, Kamikaze MAD and a Jedi MAD! ( HA HA, keep dreaming!)


I have now discovered the pitfalls of having my own agility field with agility equipment set up 24/7. It becomes tempting to over do it in your sessions. Before when I had to drag out the thing(s) I wanted to work on and set them up and take them down I calculated what skill I wanted to work on before setup. Then everyone got a few minutes doing it and you put everything away and you were tired. Now I just go over to the field with a tub of treats and a couple of dogs and work on weaves, and oh, maybe teeters. While I'm here how about a few dog walks. And oh.. need  to see the tire jump. I forget to leave them wanting more. This is not going well for the Beagles, Terriers and Siberian!  They get irritated with all the 'extra' training I'm throwing in. So, today I took a pocket of treats and one dog at a time. When the treats were gone, we were done, wherever that may be. That also made me plan what I wanted to be sure the dog saw and do it first. Everyone did better with enthusiasm with the new approach. 

Spirit hit an absolutely insane weave entrance that I so wouldn't have ask her to do had I realized where we were in relation to the weaves when I said 'weave'. If I'd have seen it in a course I'd have cursed the judge and tried to 'help' her with the entrance. But, what a great girl, and she stayed in the weaves and finished them bouncing, not walking. She's done so well the last couple of sessions with speeding herself up in the weaves. I think her foot speed is coming along a bit faster too now. 

Xanadu's weaves are just peachy-king fine here at home. Here's hoping she finds them in Memphis this weekend too. Her dog walk performance has been great. She's been double stepping on the bottom descent well to hit the contact zone. Now, if I could just get her to do the teeter faster.

Jedi got a quick session where I just tried to get him to stretch out and run with me and not act like he didn't want to be wrong. He did much better.

After a bit of agility I headed out to Cheryl's to help her finish clearing the bottom of her fence line so she can install the electric wire at the new place. Grace has been a royal irritation to her since she moved there. Grace likes to find new ways to get out and visit the neighbors every chance she gets. So, Cheryl's been having to lock the dog door with the dogs in when she leaves or leave Grace in a small kennel run. A couple of hours with two people's hands and some one to chat with, and the whole fence line is clear for installing the wire now. Hopefully soon Cheryl and her guys can get back to life as usual.



Today dawned very chilly. A perfect day for tracking! It's been 8 months or so since it's been cool enough for any real tracking. Cheryl came over this morning to try out the new agility field and rubber contacts and get some tips on training Grace's footwork for weaves using weave-o-matics. Before she got here I'd laid a track for Grace close to my house and Cheryl laid a track for Lego close to her house on her way here. Grace did fine on all the rubber equipment and Bern got a chance to do a few things out there for treats too. He liked the 16" jumps. After a bit of agility it was off to Grace's track. On the way to it we stopped and I laid Bern a short 'Z' track. Grace wagged around a bit at the beginning of her track, but once she got on it good she did an awesome job. It was around 2+ hours old with three articles, one of which none of us ever found, and it was about a TD and a half length. After her finish Bern got his shot at a 20 minute old track. He did his typical dance around at the start flag and see if he can just see where he is supposed to go. Once Cheryl convinced him he had to track he did a very nice job.

Now, off to Lego's track. There was a spot adjacent to Lego's track where Cheryl laid Spirit a short 'Z' before we started Lego's track. It was close to three hours old now. He did his typical horrible start routine as well. His isn't looking around, but sniffing every square inch of land near the flag even when  he knows where the track actually is. So frustrating. I had to grab his harness once and tell him to knock off the crap and get to work. Then, off  down the track he went. He followed it well all the way to the end alerting at each article. He and Grace definitely are capable of getting a TDX. I just wish I could fix the start problem. Spirit had a whirl at the short 'Z' Cheryl laid. It was 15-20 minutes old. I wasn't sure what to expect since this was Spirit's first time to track anyone other than me and do it anywhere other than around my house. I was greatly pleased! She took off down the track with great enthusiasm, tail a wagging. Cheryl even commented, "Look at her go!" She made the first turn all on her own with minimal sniffing around for it. The second turn went just as well and she even did a dance at the glove. She circled around it with her nose on it and bounced her front feet. (gloves give out treats!) When I realized what she was doing must mean she wanted her treats I ran up and then she laid down on the glove to get the treats. At least she's stopping at the glove now and doing something I can recognize although I'd like to improve the indication some.


The power went out today at the house for about 2 hours during a good wind. I'd been at Wal-Mart recently and stopped in at the Halloween after sale to buy some head gear for the dogs. So, what better to do when the power's out in the house than to take pictures outside.

I made it out to obedience class tonight. Kamikaze worked go-outs. jumps and signals. The jumps were a good bit closer together than in a real ring this time and she struggled with coming front without taking one. As I finished up with her I saw some people there for class with a Siberian, a red one at that. I went over after I put Kamikaze up to say hi and later I took Kazee over to meet them and  'Ruby'. Xanadu worked on go-outs and jumps mostly. She sailed at the bar jump the first time I pointed at it. YES! Then she promptly took off  way too early and came down on the bar . She did fine with the high jump though. After the first crash she didn't want to take the bar jump anymore. Even after I took her to it and warmed her up on it like it was an agility jump. What's up with the taking off too early on the bar jump? It took me a bit to figure out she was jumping the shadow of the bar that was closer to her vision. I reversed the side I was sending her from and she did much better without the shadow. Makes me wonder some about where she is looking when she is jumping though. Spirit did part of the Advanced class. She is doing much better on standing and heeling, but her stays are still way behind the curve.

1st - Happy Birthday Josie

Josie is 7 today. How the time flies!

I had Rich work on Xanadu's back when we got home from Texas. She seems herself today. She's been ripping and roaring outside, playing rough with anyone that would play with her. So, I took her out to the agility field. She weaves just fine, and  fast here. OK, well I hope it's because Rich fixed her up good and not a show stress. I know about this age is when I lost Kamikaze's weaves at shows for quite a while, so I guess I shouldn't be too worried. She also did fabulous teeters and  her running dog walk is back.  Note to self: when Xan's agility starts to be slack it's likely a pain response! For good measure I took some urine in to test for a UTI. She was clear! Here's to more chiropractic care for the little girl that plays rough.

Spirit has lost her weaves here after failing at the show. It took several short session through out the day to find them again. I'd like to see her speed up some in her running as well. Josie did great work on the agility field. Jedi, well, he's not doing so well. He either listens and walks or runs and does whatever he wants. So frustrating.