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October 2008

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30th

Xanadu did one little short track yesterday with a single turn. This time a left turn. We had similar results as the last turn. She overshot the turn and then looked a bit lost. I reeled her in a bit. She found the track again and took off. She did her auto down on the glove again. What a smart puppy!

Kamikaze has been practicing stays every day. I am staying in sight, but going a double or triple distance from her than what she'd see in Novice. She is doing well, naturally. She still skulks when I am returning. I am still at a loss as to why she thinks she's done it wrong or is trouble when she does it exactly right. Obviously somewhere I've confused her. I am working on this by dumping the really good treats after the return and making a big deal out of how good she is.

Tonight was puppy class graduation. They set up a rally course for the main event. Nothing hard.  Just two halts. One  involved a down after the sit. The rest was just turns and cone weaving. They added the puppy tunnel and the hula hoop to make it more interesting. Xanadu did it pretty well. She was interested in sniffing the signs as we've never seen those. I guess it's a good thing she got a chance to see signs and be curious. The teachers for puppy this time did a neat little thing at the end of class. They handed out report cards and a little trick-or-treat bucket with some goodies in it. Like a proud parent I should post it on the fridge, but this is more like my fridge so here's Xanadu's report card.
 

28th

Xanadu did a couple of short tracks Monday. She really likes the tracking game now and will drag you to a start flag when she sees one. I am starting out not always taking her up to the flag in the direction of the track so she has to determine a direction for herself. Not hard with treats leaving the flag area, but hopefully will help her understand it's all up to her right from the start since the new proposed tracking regs eliminate the second 'direction' flag from the TD tracks. She's started blowing past about half the treats on the track, so I am cutting back treats to every 5 steps or so. She also did her first automatic down on the glove during this training session! Good puppy! Tonight I laid her first track with a turn. 25 steps, 90 degree right turn, 35-40 steps to the glove. There were several treats around the turn to help her out. The first time to the turn she blew past it a bit and then started looking confused. I stepped her back a bit and slowed her down as she approached the turn. Then she hit it with no problem and did her down on the glove. It's done wonders for her to stuff the glove with steak bits or chicken bits. Made all the difference in the world in her desire to figure out how to play the game.

26th

I got home from the obedience trial by 3:30 today. I had a good time. On Saturday when I arrived at the Fairgrounds in Jackson, MS I noticed there were police directing traffic. Seemed odd. They waved me through when I said dog show. As I got around the back of the fairgrounds where the building for the show is I realized what was up. It was Jackson State's homecoming. They have a parade every year for it that starts at the fairgrounds. OH MY! How could I forget about this? It happened last year on show weekend and it did Sparkle in good with all the bands warming up outside the building. Oh well, here goes nothing. Unfortunately Sparkle's Advanced Rally class was around 10:30 and the parade had not quite finished leaving the fairgrounds. I had to drag her out of her crate, and even for bacon she wouldn't focus. I guess we can always ask to leave if she completely looses her mind. The booming drums were way in the distance when we walked in the ring, but I didn't have a focused obedience dog at all. She didn't even attempt real heeling right from the start. She wandered in proximity to heel while sniffing every inch of the mats and sat when I stopped. We struggled through, and she never ran off, and she did everything (poorly). "I think we passed" was all I could tell people when they asked how it went. PASS was the right word as we got a 77 (minimum passing is 70). I guess I should be happy that even in her stressed state, she stayed with me and did everything I asked. Later, after lunch, she was entered in Wildcard Open. I debated not going in for that, but since the parade was over and she needed the practice, we braved it. I still had the dog who has never heeled, EVER. But, her performance on the Drop on Recall and both retrieves was almost impeccable. She didn't jump the broad jump, but then we haven't practiced it recently. Her out of sight stays were perfect too. Friends said she never even fidgeted or looked wide eyed or anything. She even ended up placing, though it was 4th. Still, it was better than at least one or two other people did. It is, however, quite irritating and a bit embarrassing that a dog with a CD can't heel at all, or even look like they know how. 

Kamiakze had another just awe inspiring Open A run Saturday. We were Qing, very well, going into the stays. I see now where most all the work will be for the next two months. She didn't even let me get out of the ring on the sit stay. Half way out and she lifted her butt up and wiggled up a couple of steps and then settled into a sit again. Eventually going down altogether and sitting back up before we returned. Passed the down stay with some hip rolling. How can my spooky, scared of her own shadow beagle be perfectly calm and relaxed when I leave her in a ring by herself, and my confident, never scared of anything Siberian seems terrified at the prospect of being left in a ring for 5 minutes? Ever wish to read their minds?

Sunday started much better. No bands! I ordered Sparkle sausage at Waffle House. She warmed up for her turn in Rally beautifully. The sausage was a great inspiration. My biggest fear was the off set figure eight sign. The judge put a toy and a mesh covered food bowl down for that sign. (Basically you heel a figure eight pattern around the distractions) I just knew it'd be Sparkle's downfall for sure. Even if we got through that one I figured her concentration would be shot. At the start I had the beautifully heeling beagle I know and love. Head up, front feet prancing, tail wagging. At that evil sign she went to the food bowl. I was able to verbally call her off and she stopped to sniff the toy, but wasn't interested. Back past the food and I just barely kept her away from it. It did, however fry some parts of her brain and heeling went somewhat downhill, but not too bad. We finished out the course very respectably for a score of 93. Much more what I expect of her.

Kamikaze had the most beautiful heeling in Open Sunday. She had the least amount of points off of anyone else in the class, including a judge with her border collie, that have already received their CDX title. She chose a butt side on recall instead of a DROP on recall. It really was kinda funny. When I said DROP, she dropped her butt and because of her momentum she slid forward some, forgetting to actually drop her from end down too. After the slide, she just stood up and kept coming. She also got distracted when I left her for the broad jump and 'forgot' what she was doing and just came to me when I sent her. The stays where bad again. Same as yesterday for the sit stay. But, even creeped and sat up on the down today.  

Oh, yeah, there was a photographer there doing portraits, so Xanadu had some made. They're here

23rd

Since Xanadu has finally grown up enough to not chew on everything I figured she's earned her own pillow in the x-pen instead of the towels in an old pillow cover. Walgreen's is a good place to shop for cheap dog pillows. So, I stopped in and found a cute pink donut pillow for her. She loves it. I even got a picture of her curled up in it with her favorite lizard squeaky.

Kamikaze, Sparkle and Xanadu went to obedience class tonight. It'd been threatening rain all day, so I got there early with Kazee's dumbbell and broad jump. I worked her through all the Open Exercises except stays and retrieve over high. I figured we'd do stays with a group in Novice class at 8. Then I got Xanadu out and took her to puppy class. For the first time in class I used her nylon slip and short leather leash. That's all of my dog's cue that we are working. She did great heeling for ham pieces. The 'choose to heel' exercises in the yard are improving her understanding at warp speed. She even proved that she knew how to stay for more than a nanosecond. We've been working on sit stay and walk around and down stay and walk around since both of those are Rally Novice moves. She did them in class with the distractions and everything! I was very pleased. She even showed that she's starting to think about an auto sit on stop when heeling too. Half way through her puppy class the rain started and we quit early. So, Sparkle got no work and Kamikaze got no stays. Hope I've been doing enough to get a decent run in Rally Adv (Sparkle) and Open A (Kazee) this weekend in Jackson. Xanadu's breeder will be there too, so they'll get to see each other.

 

21st

I took Kamikaze and Josie to agility class last night. Josie ran her little heart out from the first exercise to the last even with a poodle there that she can't stand. Kamikaze did just wonderful on tightening up her turns. She's is a dream to run. A lady in class said she got to see one of Xanadu's brothers at a tracking seminar this past weekend. How cool! While we were out at the field Xanadu got some more baby Aframe practice, dog walk practice, teeter practice, tunnel zooms and her first introduction to the table. She's doing all of it with speed and enthusiasm right now, and we'd like to keep it that way.

20th

I spent some time today working on Kamikaze's out of sight stays. Of course, everything went well here around the house. I also took some time to do some more tracking intro with Xanadu. We did three straight line tracks (10-12 steps) to a glove stuffed with chicken. That way I got to introduce article indication. Since she had to crouch down to get her nose in the glove, I just lightly pushed her into a complete down as I dumped treats to the open end. She's already showing excitement at the sight of a start flag! Xanadu did a bit of obedience work too. All off leash in the back yard. Just a couple of steps in heel, sit in front, lay in heel, and some stay while I walk around you work. A bit of 'choose to heel' (get treat as soon as you step into heel as I walk by) and we quit. 

It was also conformation class time again. I only took Xanadu this time. I thought she needed a good couple of sessions without me putting her up to work Kamikaze. She is improving every session. She's now stopping in a stand well and gaiting well. We are still working on standing still on the table for exam and keeping our tail up when we stop moving. I can now show her bite to someone without much wiggle, but she still needs work on someone else looking at her bite. The teacher said she's starting to muscle up well in the rear now too.

18th

I met Cheryl for tracking practice this morning. Kamikaze did better this time. We practiced long straight lines. This seems to be her weakness. She loses confidence in her self on long straight legs and starts dancing around. We still did some dancing ever 10 steps or so, but she made it through without any help. Sparkle struggled through her track. We intentionally laid it in a field where we'd just seen a guy and his two boxers vacating. To make it even more difficult, while we ran the other dogs through their tracks another lady and her two boxers ran around the field. So she had to distinguish Cheryl's scent from an older human one and a newer human one as well as the four dogs. Considering all this I was happy with her, but I could tell it was maxing out her brain power. She did make it through to the glove with only a couple of directions from me. Xanadu got to track a short line to some chicken. There were treats ever other step. It's been a while since I introduced her to tracking, but she has some good potential. Her biggest worry seemed to be the tracking harness around her belly.

After tracking, I went out to Ascension Parish and met Rich at his Healing Hands volunteer project. Xanadu went along. She met kids of many ages, from 16 months to eight or ten years. She was great with all of them. The squealing and running didn't phase her at all. She even let them take her ball out of her mouth and throw it for her. Mind you, she didn't bring it back, they had to go and get it from her. I was pleased with the experience.

17th

I took Xanadu to puppy class last night and Sparkle and Kamikaze split a class. I vote that Xanadu passed puppy class with flying colors even though there's one more class session. The last thing in class was a completely off leash obstacle course. (treats encouraged, of course) It wasn't as scary as it sounds. They had a complete obedience ring set up, so for most all breeds of puppies there was no easy escape. Xanadu and I went first and with a bit of help from some yummy hot dogs we were the stand out stars of the class. She hopped over the high jump bar (laid on the ground) and through a hula hoop with me jogging by them. Then an about turn to heel slalom style though cones to the other end of the ring. Another about turn and she raced through the tunnel, over the single broad jump board and stopped on the elevated square of wood. She never once lost her focus on me.. or uhm.. the hotdogs.:)

I worked some today with Xanadu and choosing to heel on her own. We also practiced some short stays. This will be her hardest trick to master in time for Rally in Dec. This afternoon it was finally cooler here. Only got up to 75 or so for the high. The dogs were very active with a little bit of break from the heat.  I took some play pictures.

15th

I made it out to agility class last night with Kamikaze and Sparkle. Sparkle ran the first and last sequence and Kazee did the rest. Sparkle still walked them. Kazee did great! I was so proud of my baby dog. She handled a couple of nasty weave pole entrances and some advanced handling skills very well. Sparkle got the play teeter for massive jackpots (while on the teeter) and aframe from a stand still at the bottom and dogwalk too. She seemed somewhat improved to me. I really want her to get her NA so she can be a versatile companion dog. If she truly hates it after that I'll let her stay home with daddy. Xanadu also played on the teeter, baby aframe and dogwalk. She races across them all.

We spent tonight putting together our two new kennel runs. They are 5 feet wide by 15 feet long. Not an ideal amount of space, but certainly better than those commercial 5X10 ones. We were even able to put 5 feet of them up on the patio, under cover for shade, weather protection and easy access. Now with so many getting older and some not wanting to play nice with others I thought a second option, other than the house, for separating might come in handy. Not that we plan on storing anyone in them all day on a regular basis, but this way we can actually go away all day on a Saturday without having to worry about leaving someone in the house too long. Even Misty can lay around in one for a few hours in the afternoon to get some sun instead of being fairly strictly confined to the house. She's not allowed out with anyone but Sparkle unless we are here to monitor the situation. She gets on fine with everyone, but we are afraid she may have another seizure and get attacked in the middle of it. They may come in handy if we need someone to come feed and check on them for us one day too. With Lego in a run maybe someone the dogs know can get out in the yard to check on them. (Lego is very yard protective, even with folks he loves)

13th

I got home from Memphis about 5 tonight. We had fun at the Showcase of Dogs. Interestingly enough, this big mostly AKC event had a USDAA sponsored agility show and a huge flyball tournament. Agility was outdoors on grass. That was a new concept for us. I had Josie and Jedi in agility and Kamikaze in obedience and conformation. Xanadu came along for the ride. Thursday night when I got in to Memphis I had to drive Kazee out to Bartlett to stay at a handler's house overnight. He was taking her to the conformation show ( at another site) Friday. That was a tough thing to do. I haven't ever left her with a stranger. She ended up being fine. She did talk a bit in her crate all night. 

Friday:
Jedi started out with his usual non-attentive self. Too bad the first run was Snooker, which he needs just one more Super Q in. Josie, on the other hand, started out as a blast off from the word go. What a great run, and a bad handler move shot her off course. I was thrilled with having my dog back though. Jedi was still not listening in Standard. Josie once again took off and was one bad handler move from her first Master Standard Q too! That means she did her Aframe and dogwalk contacts. As the day wore on Jedi improved and Josie was pretty much her old, happy, fast self. Jedi ended up with his first ever Steeplechase Q the last run of the day! 

I got the call from the conformation arena that Kazee got big time dumped. Even the handlers standing around the ring were floored that she didn't win. All this political crap kills me. Karen, my breeder friend actually showed her.   Anyway, got my dog back at about 4 from the handler and she was fine. The good news is she didn't give anyone any trouble on the grooming table, and she showed beautifully for someone else.

Saturday:
Jedi was still choosing when to listen. He ended up winning the Steeplechase finals in his height by default. He was the only dog that didn't E. Ok, so not too big a deal, but not an E for Jedi is pretty darn good. Josie was starting to walk off the start line a few times this day, but she always picked it up in a bit and never tried to just leave when she saw the exit. She was one crazy handler move from a Master Standard leg again. I am starting to believe she may actually Q in Standard again some day. 

The day went a bit mad at 1ish. Kamikaze was due in the conformation and obedience rings at about the same time. I moved her to the end of the obedience class and went to conformation first. Today there were no handlers showing dogs in Siberians, so politics was gone. Kazee got Winners Bitch/Best of Breed for her second point. We ran, literally, up the hill to the obedience building. I snatched her dumbbell up on the way by her crate and got in there just in time to see the last dog besides me finish their last two exercises. Oh, this should make for an interesting run! The building was also full of spectators and vendors and noise. Kazee was distracted, and no time to warm her up good. Her heeling was horrendous at the start, but improved to almost nice by the figure eight pattern. She did her drop and the first dumbbell retrieve fine. Then over the high jump she missed the jump on the way back. It only got worse. As I left her for the broad jump and someone came in the door right by the ring. She turned into bobble head dog and when I tried to send her over the jump she'd forgotten why she was even there. Right back in for stays. She did her sit stay fairly well. She but slid forward a step or so, but not a flunk. The down was too much for her without a good, focused warm up. When we came back she was in the middle of the ring in a down stay. Karen says she stood up as soon as I left her sight. Then she walked to the middle and sat down and did bobble head at everything for a minute and then laid back down. I wasn't too disappointed in her. It was a bit unfair to sling her in there straight out of conformation. After one agility run in my conformation clothes I went back there for a 'show' picture with the judge. Can't wait to see the proofs.

Sunday:
Jedi started well with a nice focused gamblers run. He even gambled! We ended up 3 tenths of a second over or he would've had his first Master Gambler Q. Josie started out slow every run today, but picked it up quickly. She had a pokey gambler opening, but did the gamble in time for her second Master Gambler Q!! Jedi should've had his third pairs Q, but with only three jumps left in his half I tensed up (we were good until then) and pulled a boner of a handler move to get an off course. 

Obedience was first thing in the morning today and breed wasn't until after lunch. I got Kamikaze focused and warmed up good before her run. She was stellar! I mean really, almost a different dog from yesterday. Her heeling was focused, the biggest problem was a slight fear/interest in the man judge. Her drop was a slide into the mats. Her first retrieve was great. Then the high jump. She was so sure she knew what was expected of her that she took off over the jump as soon as the judge said "SEND". It was a beautiful retrieve over high though. Too bad for that over anxious flunk. She soared the broad jump and was slipping trying to turn back to me. When she got her feet under her she was aimed at the high jump, so she took it on the way back to front. I was so pleased with her effort. To cap off my proud feelings, the judge tapped my elbow as I was exiting and told me what a wonderful dog I had and that he really enjoyed her. That always makes you feel good. Then at the exit were several other competitors that don't know me. They were all raving about what a great dog I had and begging me not to give up. "Thanks! She's only eighteen months. Not planning on quitting on her!", I tell them all. I was on cloud nine after all that. I asked to be excused from stays since I wasn't passing and I had so many other places to be. That also prevented another opportunity at sneaky scooting. 

Conformation was interesting. The judge gave me first place in the Open class over the other bitch, after giving the puppy bitch a second place to keep her out of the running for Winners Bitch. But, she withheld the award of Winners Bitch that should've been my third point. She said she didn't feel the quality of dogs and her interpretation of the standard warranted a point. This was after on Friday the puppy bitch took the point over Kazee and the other Open bitch and on Thursday the other Open Bitch took the point. I hate conformation!

Xanadu was a hit with everyone at the show that met her. She did very well there. She even 'cheered' for flyball one morning. I took her there for the noise and chaos. Figured no better way to see how she'd handle noisy places. She seemed not the least bit upset by all the hubbub. So, I lifted her up and held her where she could watch a flyball race. By the third heat she was hollering at the dogs as the ran past her. Too cute! Her other big experience was sheep. There was a herding demonstration out there. I took her over by the snow fencing that kept the spectators and all at bay from the sheep and herder. She didn't seem too interested in the border collie and the man directing him until they pushed the sheep close to her area of the fence. She started woofing a bit under her breath and then let out a beagle holler at the sheep. We promptly moved away from that area. Not sure 'cheering' for sheep herding is as acceptable as cheering for flyball.

6th

I set up my dog walk this afternoon as well as pulling out the tunnel, teeter, and a couple of jumps. I worked on Kamikaze's fear of the tunnel under the dog walk ramp. I think we actually made it worse at the seminar by trying to stop and treat her as she passed over the tunnel. She didn't want to pause there. It might eat her. So, starting out our training I just had to get her to do the dog walk again without anything unusual. Once she was doing the dog walk again I started with the tunnel just bunched up under it, but not sticking out. She still doesn't seem pleased with the idea of the tunnel there, but she does the dog walk reliably with it under there now. You can still see her easing past that point and then racing on before it can get her. Hopefully in time the stress look will ease off her face. We also did teeter a few times to be sure she knew the difference in the teeter and dog walk. She seems to understand them just fine. I also got Josie out and work some handling rewarding instead of obstacle rewarding. Her slow starts have disappeared at home, just hasn't carried over to everywhere else yet. While the agility equipment was out, I took Xanadu out to play. We raced her through the tunnel and between the jump uprights (no bar). Then she took off for the dog walk and flew over it. No fear at all. I worked the teeter some with her too. She'll race me to the end of it and I catch the end and drop it slowly to the ground with one hand while I dispense plentiful treats with the other one. She doesn't seem bothered at all by the motion or the noise it makes as it returns the weighted end to the ground after she's exited. I hope her speed holds up forever!! Sparkle got her chance at the teeter too. At the seminar was a dog that's nervous about teeters. I listened in on Elaine's suggestions to help. I used them on Sparkle. It seems to be improving her teeter attitude already.

5th

Thursday was obedience class. Xanadu had a great time in puppy class. The teachers brought out some mini agility stuff to introduce the puppies to. We were in line watching them coax and cajole all the pups through this little 3-4 foot tunnel. When it was our turn I just ask the teachers to all step back. Xanadu raced through when I showed it to her. I was afraid for a minute I wouldn't be able to catch her even with her leash dragging. She was also stellar at the 4 inch jump and the broad jump board and the hula hoop.

Xanadu went in for her Rabies shot on Friday. I also mentioned to them she was getting gooey eye in the mornings, but nothing seemed red or irritated. They did a tear production test and found her right eye was a good deal low on tear production. They gave me some drops for a week with the opinion that it could be just a cyclical problem, or even adolescence. They seem to think she'll be fine in a week. She weighed in at a whole 12 pounds. She was about 10 when I got her the end of August. So, she's not growing very fast. I emailed her brother's owner and he's around 15 pounds. That's a pretty big difference when you look at it as 25% more weight. I knew she was one of the little ones in the litter when I got her. Of course, my only real desire on size is that she doesn't go over 14 inches tall.

Misty went with me to the vet to have a lump looked at. It appeared recently and seems to be growing. They couldn't find any cells that concerned them. It appears to be another fatty mass. If it keeps growing it'll have to be removed though. The scary part of her quick check was the discovery of a grade 2 heart murmur now. She's never had one in the past. The vet seems to think it's just old age heart valves getting a bit slushy and not really any kind of heart failure. It's still quite unsettling.

This weekend I attended an agility seminar by Elaine Coupe. It was by far the best seminar I've ever been at. She spent time with each team assessing their shortcomings and how to fix them instead of trying to make everyone do it a certain way. She was able to pinpoint Josie's issue immediately. I was thrilled for someone to be able to tell me why my dog started walking. It even made sense. I've never been taught, or even thought of it, to reward my dog for handling maneuvers. I always reward for obstacle performance. So, Josie knows obstacles well, but it's the space between obstacles that's getting to her. She doesn't understand turning is a rewardable part of the game. So she shut down as I called her away from obstacles (the rewardable things). Elaine also stressed that behaviors must be black and white to the dogs. They either do it exactly as we want or no reward, but she advocates ignoring wrong performances not punishing them. "Rewarded behaviors continue, ignored ones will disappear". What I learned this weekend will also help me NOT make the same mistake with Kamikaze. Who, by the way, did extremely well this weekend on the few exercises I put her in. I seem to have done a good job with foundation work on her. We did encounter the evil tunnel under the dogwalk ramp again. It scared her again to the point she bailed of the ramp at the point of the tunnel. Elaine had some ideas for that problem that I can work on at home.

Xanadu went with me on Sunday to play with Elaine's new border collie puppy. They had a grand time in an x-pen all morning. Then they were both worn out for a good bit. Hope it helped her have a calm puppy for her 5-6 hour ride home tonight.

1st

Xanadu had her first conformation class Monday night. She did very well.

I got Kamikaze back in agility classes. First class was last night. She did well. I think I see our weave issue at shows. She pulled the same thing in class. I can weave great first try. Then downhill from there. I added the water jug at the end with a treat on it and she can weave again. So, it seems she is looking for the reward. If it's not out at the end then she starts wondering why she's doing it or what she's done wrong. I need to fade the large treat container to a small, invisible one and start having it out there about half the time instead of every time. Also need to start fading the visual and adding a toss from my hand or something.

Josie went out to the agility field as well. She did about every other exercise. She started out all walking and such like at shows, but kicked it up. I'm hoping to improve this issue in the next couple of weeks. We also worked on her contacts, which, of course, are perfect there. Xanadu was out there for the experience. She played on that mini A frame again. Some teeter socialization. Mostly treats for the banging noise while she stood there. And she took off over the big dogwalk. I was nervous about that and stayed right with her. She did it fine and didn't seem the least bit nervous.

There are now pictures on the photographers website from the agility trial last weekend.
Best Kazee jump shot
Great Kazee weave shot
Lego weave shot
Sparkle Jump
Sparkle Weave
Xanadu candids

This evening Sparkle and Xanadu had a roaring play session in the living room followed by a pleasant rest together.