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November 2011

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30th

Yesterday Lego did another tracking start. It was not quite 2 hours old and since I laid it after work we had to use a flashlight in the front yard to find the flag. It was a 90 degree start off the flag and he nailed it! A quick sniff around the flag and he went right off down the track. So, now, is it age of the track? Is it cover? OR is it that this time I picked up the start article as soon as he alerted and gave him the move on cue? I've been bad about leaving the start article attached to the flag when it's just me and him and asking him to track past it. I know when I track with Cheryl I pick it up and he still struggles at the start. OH the things I need to determine about his starts!

Twinkle and I have signed up for Susan Garrett's online RECALLERS course. It starts December 5th. I am interested to see what she has to say. I know the course is about spending 5 minutes a day playing games with the dog that encourage a strong relationship and make you the most important part of their life. This class should give me the motivation to work on Twinkle a little every day. She still finds her own things more important than humans.

I took Kamikaze out to agility class with Sprigs tonight. Kazee is READY for this weekend. Hope I can hold up my end of the bargain. Sprigs wasn't as into practicing agility this week. I think I stressed her out trying to get her to go through a blue tunnel under the dogwalk. She would do it one way and not the other. One way was away from the light, so heading into a dark turn. I had to be at the other end calling her through or she wouldn't do it. *sigh* I think I overdid my insistence that she do that. She did do both teeters fine though. And dogwalk and Aframe were fine! She did the panel and the double too. I had to remind her how the chute works once and then she did it fine afterwards.

Today I got my Santa picture in the mail!

28th

I did the whole Zumba class today without the knee brace! I learned in Arkansas this weekend that my knee is better than I thought and now it's the fear of hurting that is stopping me. Must start short sprint practice now!! Been filling out entry forms for agility show coming up next year and I'm so excited to be back in the game.

Sprigs has discovered she can jump on a little dog house and then on to the wood pile. She's been an influence on some others too. Not sure I like this game!

Spirit's VCD1 title came in the mail too!

27th

We were off to Arkansas on Thanksgiving to see Rich's folks. Four Beagle girls and a Dachshund went with us. The good news about that is that Nikita was doing so well we were comfortable enough leaving her at home for a couple of days unattended. It's a long 7 hour drive to Hot Springs. UGH! Rich's family are not early risers, so we always have free time in the mornings before we head to a relative's house for social time. In Hot Springs we love to walk on the mountain in the National Park. It's surely the highlight of the dogs' time there.

I didn't take the knee brace so the hour or so of hiking was done without it. I had the two red girls and Sprigs dragging me along. Downhill was tough for me and the knee, especially with the power pulling. We did turn around on the trail once when there was a significant decline ahead. Other than that my knee and I held up well! I had some sore calves and glutes the day after the hike though. Twinkle didn't get sick once in the all the car riding either. That was a big plus. Maybe her body is processing food better now and her body is getting accustomed to riding. She and Sprigs were champs with all the crate time at the house and good at the hotel too. I was proud of both the young ones. They were the ones happy to be petted and carried around by the 5 year old niece too! Spirit and Xanadu both got some off leash running around in the two sided fenced yard and were great on recalls and staying near me. Xan even practiced signals and go-outs. Sprigs likely would've been fine running loose too, but I didn't chance it since I am still unable to run enough to catch her.

We got home Saturday and everyone at home was fine. Kamikaze seems a bit 'off'. I think she was offended and stressed a bit at being left. She doesn't usually get left. I need to spend some quality time with her this week in anticipation of agility this next weekend. We are hoping for our USDAA ADCH title. We only need one Standard Q! I hope I can get around the course in a good enough fashion. I'd love to finish her champion title at this show. It's the Memphis, TN club and they are like a second home for me.

This afternoon we went to see the new Muppet movie with Cheryl and Mike. I was a tad disappointed at the content. I thought they could've done a bit more, but it was overall a joy to watch.

21st

Lego had two practice tracking 'starts' today. First one was just a short straight leg to an article to end. Other one was a longer straight leg with a 90 degree left turn (short leg) to an article. Both at three hours old. He handled the start of the first one well. It was just a 45 degree angle off the start flag in pretty decent cover. The second one was terrible. He started the wrong way twice and tried to pull me. Then he just tried to quit. After an eternity he actually started sniffing deeper and started correctly (much verbal praise). Then he was FINE down the leg, through a rail fence and around the turn. This start was a 90 degree start off the flag in short, dry grass. So, is it the cover at the start? Is it the angle of the start? Time will helpfully tell me so I can help him. I am hoping the old tracks that are short with a quick reward will help his start ethic.

While I was at it I put in a straight line for Sprigs. With a glove at the end stuffed with shrimp. No actual treats on the track for the first time. Then I aged it 15 minutes for the first time. Sprigs was great! She hit the flag tracking, took a few seconds at the start article sniffing (for the treat I usually hide under it), and then proceeded down the track. She laid down and stuck her nose in the glove for her shrimp. While I was messing with tracking gear Twinkle saw it all and got royally excited. So, I laid her a straight line with a shrimp stuffed glove at the end. Hers had treats along the way too. I didn't really age it either. She did very well and seemed to actually be tracking the human scent and not just accidentally finding treats. There may be hope for her in the tracking realm.

19th

Got Spirit's track in the mail today. Cheryl and I like this idea so much we think we may try it out for our show.

Cedar dropped by the vet yesterday for a blood draw to check her thyroid levels now that she's been on hormone replacement a month or so. We'll know results by Monday, but Cedar is acting much more spunky. even played race and chase with some beagles today.

This morning  I was supposed to lay Cheryl and Grace a track at 7am that included stomping through woods. Cheryl was laying one for Lego. I was up by 6, so I took off and laid Kamikaze a track to age on the way to lay Grace's. It took 30 minutes to lay Grace a track because I had to hack a path in and out of the woods in two different spots. When I got back to Kazee's track it was 2 hours old. Kamikaze hasn't tracked since she got her tracking title. Two years ago this month!  Kazee ROCKED! Amazing that they don't forget and what a little more maturity does for them. She's never tracked a track that old. She's never had an article along the way that didn't signal the end either. But, she handled both like a pro. She laid down on the piece of cloth and got a treat and a pat and I told her to track on and she did! Her only wild spot was the last turn. It took her half that last leg to determine exactly where the actual track was even though she was wigging back and forth in the general area and moving forward. When she found the exact place she laid into that harness with confidence. The whole track you could tell when she was on and when she was unsure. When she was on the track she was pulling into that harness and moving with great intent. When she wasn't sure, she would hunt around, but not pull into the harness. I have forgotten what tracking is like with a dog that's looking for the end to get the reward! Hounds enjoy the whole experience. Out sniffing is a treat for them and they sniff along, check out smells, look at trash, etc. Kamikaze was out to find the end. I was almost jogging for parts of that track. Maybe she does have a TDX in there now that she's matured some.

After Kazee's track I practiced some short stuff with Sprigs. This time I added a glove at the end with leftover shrimp stuffed in it. To give it value and encourage a 'stop and investigate.' She's catching on now. She's ready to go at the start flag even if she hasn't seen me put out the track. Her treats are at least 10 steps apart and it's time to up that some as she buzzed by some and came to an abrupt stop to go back for them. Time to put a bit of age on it too. 15 minutes maybe.

After a quick practice session I was off to meet Cheryl over by her house to give Lego a shot at a 2.5 hour old track. He pulled his most famous failure to work at the start. He tries sniffing everything around the flag, but WILL NOT start down the track. Once we got him started (after two scoldings) he did very well. He even found a dead computer mouse as one of his articles. The other on track article seems to have walked out of the field somehow. He did the 'I smell an article' dance at the right spot, but never alerted. Neither Cheryl nor I could find it either. If I could just figure a way to fix his starts he could get a TDX.  Maybe he needs an article 20 yards out from the start to reward him for starting?

After Lego, we drove towards my house for Grace and Bern. I laid a track for Bern when we got there. It aged while Grace did her track. Grace is learning walking into the woods to track better now. Bern was freakin' awesome. It's the first time I've seen him walk to the flag with his nose down ready to work. He's gonna get a TD next year. I can feel it. 

Nikita has eaten for four straight days now. No more vomiting or diarrhea. She trotted off to the shop with Rich yesterday and beat him back to the house. She's almost her normal 13 1/2 year old self now. Must've been a virus. WOW! It was so bad we were just hours from scheduling an exploratory surgery.

 

16th

We left Nikita on the patio all night. She was too sick to even fuss about being out. I pulled all the pillows up by the door so she could lay by it. I put the spotlight by the door so I could use it this morning to look for her. When I got up I grabbed it and swept the whole yard with no sign of her. I know she was too sick to escape. I tried calling, but no response. Finally turned around and swept the inside of the dog houses. She was hiding out in one. She wouldn't even get up. I had to pull her out. She did stand for a bit. I got her in a half covered, half uncovered kennel run by the house and told Rich about her. Then I had to go off and leave her and head to the office. ARGH! Hate that. Rich made it home by 1:30ish to check on her. He said she was in the doghouse in the run, but walked out when she heard him. He offered her a cup of kibble with a can of food on it. She ate almost all that. When I got home she was still very, very weak and lethargic. Wouldn't even much keep her head up when laying down. By 6pm she'd kept all the food in her with no strange explosions out either end.

So, off to agility class I went with Sprigs, Xanadu, Spirit and Twinkle. Twinkle just needs to travel in the car more and get out more. I walked her around when I first got there. She is soooo interested in new place smells. After 5 - 8 minutes or so of just looking aroudn the place I got her over all the strange full height contacts. (on leash of course) I had chicken pieces, so I was able to get her attention some, but it still counted in seconds. Then Xanadu got a shot at about 13 (planned) obstacles like a jumpers course. She was great, but at obstacle 9 or so veered off to the Aframe on three occasions before I got her by it. She was running fast and happy and got her treats and went back to the car. Spirit did the same course. She was great! Got her cookies and then to the car. Sprigs worked on the strange teeters there. (both of them) We are still having issues with her not wanting to go fast towards the tipping point after that scare the first night on the fast teeter. I think we'll work through it by March. At least she'll do them both now even if it's with some hesitation. The dogwalk, Aframe, double, triple and tunnels were no problem. Need to get her on the tire, chute and broad jump again real soon.

15th

Nikita was fussy all night last night. I ended up just cracking the door so she could go in and out at will. I found a little vomit when I got up in the morning. Well, that was the tip of the iceberg. When I got home after work there was a good bit of vomit and diarrhea in her room. The cleaning supplies were already on the coffee table, so I assumed Rich had had a mess to clean up when he checked in at lunch. I called him to see how bad it was at lunch. Apparently she let herself out of the dog room and sprayed the living room with squirts and pukes too. HRRMM... that bad sick is cause for a vet visit at 13 1/2 years old. I ran her in and spend 2 hours at the vet with her. Blood work looked good, not even elevated white cells. No fever. X-rays showed one 'maybe' strange thing and lots of gas. Ultrasound showed one 'maybe' strange thing. No answer. By the end of it all she was so weak she couldn't/wouldn't walk and I had to carry her to the car. UGH! Gonna be a long, worrisome night.

14th

I laid a couple of tracks this morning, so lunch was tracking time. Unfortunately the temps by lunch were around 82-84 degrees. Seriously? It's NOVEMBER!!! Just another reason it's so hard to have tracking dogs in the deep south. Only 3 months out of the year are non-swelter enough to train in. Xanadu ran a 2 hour old track. She hasn't tracked since she got her TD in March 2010. It was only a tad longer than a TD track. She was so wired at the start she lunged and raced in circles and danced, but didn't 'work'. I finally got her to work from the start (she's used to just going forward). She struggled at all the turns and wanted to quit on at least two of them. She got re-energized after turn two when she found an article. She thought that should be the end! I had never introduced her to continuing after an article find. After a bit of coaxing she continued on after a treat for the article. She about lost it on the next to last turn completely. She over ran it so much she almost couldn't get back on. She needs work and practice! Was proud she remembered her article alert and found both the end one and a middle one. 

Sparkle's track was about 2.5-3 hours old when we got to it. She is an awesome tracking dog (when worked regularly), but gets off human scent in favor of animal scent all the time. She started well. Then I can't even tell you how close to on track she was the rest of the way. The first turn was fairly close, but after that she was in the 'general vicinity'. We never found the middle of the track article, but I've had ones disappear from that field regularly. Then we almost couldn't find the glove. Poor girl. She was so spooked by anything and everything. It's been years since I had her out tracking. Her track was behind a McDonalds and next to a bank. Both places made strange noises and spooked her. A car honking on the road, a backfire noise, anything. I need to make it a point to get her out tracking more even if not to get a TDX on her, but to help her spooky personality settle some. She did remember her article indication though.

13th

I got out Saturday morning to lay my tracking guys out tracks to do. Some of them haven't tracked in a year or more. It turned out instead that I got a hold of Cheryl and she and Mike came out and laid cross tracks for Lego's track. Lego is slow starting still, wagged a bit at the first set of cross tracks, right by the second set with a head nod. Overall he did well for a guy that hasn't tracked in a year. He found all the articles, even metal.

Grace did a track forcing her into the woods. That's the next big focus with her. Bernie did a U shape and worked well at times. Twinkle, Sprigs and Pete all did intro to tracking exercises. It was a pleasant morning, but getting warm, so I put off tracking Xan, Sparkle and Kazee until a later date.

This morning was Pet Pictures with Santa sponsored by CAAWS. We loaded everyone up at 8am and took off to be the first in line. Waiting a long time with 11 dogs is a pain. Cheryl and Mike met us there with their dogs. They helped wrangle ours and then got their kids' picture made too. We put Cheryl in charge of grouchy, space conscience Lego and Mike in charge of old, infirm Nikita. That left Rich and I walking many dogs at once, but all with easy personalities. The picture was so much easier with help and Cheryl was even able to unwrap leashes and get them on the right dogs after the picture was over since she travels so much with them and knows everyone's color. We have Santa pictures from them dating back to when Nikita was 6 months old! The old lady Siberian in this photo (on your right) is Pebbles. Maverick on left, Misty in Santa's lap and Nikita is that young sprout between his legs.

We have only missed one year of pictures with CAAWS since this one, and one year they didn't do it. This year's picture looked great on the digital camera preview. Can't wait to get them in.

On the puppy front, I have an update. My puppy has been picked. Here he is at 6 weeks. Only 5 more weeks until pick up!

6th

Cheryl and Grace and I with Spirit, Xanadu, Sprigs took off Friday afternoon and drove to Baytown, TX. We had a free room at the LA Quinta thanks to reward points. Our room was right next to agility people from Louisiana, so we bummed our way into joining them for dinner. Saturday morning we checked out of La Quinta and took our guys to the agility show in Crosby, TX. It was a reasonably cool day. Spirit and I hobbled around the Excellent Standard course for a Q. It was slow as I couldn't get up and go fast, so she didn't go fast. Or she chose to do beagle things while I caught up. Overall I was proud of her. It was her second MX leg. After the Standard run I figured there was no way I could keep up in Jumpers, so Cheryl ran Spirit in Jumpers. They had fun and Spirit never tried to leave her. Spirit was my only dog entered. The other were just along for the ride. It turned out good for Xanadu as I paid for the massage guy there, who comes highly recommended, to work on Xan. She's been exhibiting avoidance and walking and pain behaviors in agility. The guy found out she was wracked out with pain and trigger points. POOR BABY, had I known it were that bad I'd have been finding help earlier. Cheryl and Grace had a nice day with two first place Q's and a title.

After agility we raced across to the west side of Houston to eat dinner with the tracking folks. Spirit and Grace were in the test for Sunday. (the whole reason for being in TX this weekend) Our night at the Red Roof on that side of town was less than desirable. The room was great, but in the wee hours of the morning a person with a key to OUR room tried to get it. Thankfully we had the chain on. Then the phone rang. On top of that my body was rebelling from dehydration type symptoms. Suffice it to say, we didn't sleep much. I was thankful for the extra hour of sleep. I was a bit worried about the ground cover when we got out to the park we were tracking in. Texas has been experiencing a bad drought all year. There was not the usual plush stuff on the ground, but tufts of stubborn desert looking stuff. The draw for order of running tracks went in my favor Sunday morning and Spirit drew track #1! The track was only about 40 minutes old by the time we got there. (minimum being 30) That's the advantage to running track #1. We walked up to the start flag and Spirit started off well. But then she just kept walking and walking and walking. My heart is always in my throat until we make the first turn, then I settle into my enjoyment of tracking and the 'normal' routine of it. I was beginning to think she'd just not turned at the first turn (a not so uncommon issue with TD dogs). She's not the best turning dog. That first leg went on for an excruciating 145 yards. That's pretty long for a leg of a TD track. Then, she turned. And she did it with confidence. OK, so my dog IS working after all. I settled in for the experience. She had one major struggle at the last turn that got my heart racing a bit. She flunked the last one at the last turn. But, I waited for her to work it out for what seemed like forever. Then she was on top of the glove. It was a short last leg. GOOD GIRL SPIRIT! That got her not only her TD, but her VCD1! Third puppy in her litter to be a VCD dog. A fine thing to be proud of for the breeder I'd think.

Spirit working well!

Spirit with her glove and the judges and tracklayer!

2nd

Sprigs and I went out early to agility class tonight. Xanadu and Spirit went along. There was an exercise of 10 obstacles set up including jumps, tunnels and the Aframe. I was able to run Xanadu and Spirit through the exercise without getting behind or out of place!! YAHOO for healing knee! Spirit ran the exercise for Cheryl as well. Cheryl may be running Spirit in a run this weekend in Texas.

Then I pulled Sprigs out to try the exercise. She hasn't really been sequencing yet. She just learned tunnels with curves in them last week. It took a couple of tries at the different Aframe to convince her it was just like the one here. Then I forgot how baby she is and tried a rear cross at a tunnel. That didn't go well. She popped right back out. Once we fixed those issues she ran the 10 obstacles perfectly! Then we went to every teeter on the field. She still is not as good at teeter as she was before that fast falling one spooked her, but she did them all. We even took a shot at the different dogwalk. Again, it took a couple of tries to convince her it was like the one here. She did her 12 weaves out there twice perfectly (first two tries too). There was a chute out, so I was able to teach her the chute in like 5 minutes. She's such a smart girl. Hope she remembers chute next week! She is going to be so ready for her first show at 15 months. I have a feeling we may get out of jumpers faster than standard though.

Cheryl and I are taking off Friday afternoon to head to Crosby, TX. We'll play agility there (Spirit only) and then drive to the west side of Houston for a tracking test Sunday. Grace got in the TDX part and Spirit is in the TD part. SO excited for first tracking test of the season.

1st - Happy Birthday Josie

Today Josie is EIGHT! ARGH! Where does the time go? Happy Birthday to my only ADCH girlie!