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31st

Cheryl and I were off in Crosby, TX this weekend for an AKC agility show. Saturday I think we had an all time bad record of a day. Between the two of us we went back to the hotel with 10 NQs. ACK! Kamikaze had two really nice runs with just one little kink. Lego ran well in Standard with one little thing, but his jumpers run was hideous. Spirit had two really nice Open runs, but isn't weaving 12 poles at a show yet. Xanadu absolutely refused to even attempt to weave and trotted the courses. I was awe stricken by that. Cheryl watched her for me and we both thought maybe her back was hurting. I focused in on a right rear leg. There was a massage therapy lady there and I took Xan to her after the show. She concurred that the right rear hip area was hot and maybe a bit swollen. A massage seemed to help her feel better at least as far as doing average daily things was concerned.

Sunday Spirit had two more nice runs with no weaves. Xan was still favoring her rear a bit when jumping (so says Cheryl) and for the first time ever seemed to have a bit of a struggle near the top of the Aframe. Still no weaves either, but her speed was better. After standard, I vowed to not force the weave issue since it appears to be pain and not a true refusal to do them. She didn't want to try them in Jumpers and we ran past them. Kamikaze had a very nice standard run. I was pleased to qualify around the middle of the qualifying times. She picked up 16 MACH points and only her third MX leg. Then, may wonders never cease, she pulled out a Q in Jumpers too for our very first double Q towards MACH! That was a great feeling and a nice way to end the show.

27th

Yesterday I made Xanadu have a go at articles out in the yard while everyone else ate dinner. She didn't really even want to go to the pile, so I just picked her up and took her back in. No dinner for her until she tries though. Five minutes later we went back out and I made a big happy deal about the articles. Still no interest. Another five minutes and she at least made an effort. Not a bad effort either. She got it right. We went inside for dinner and a party. Thinking back, this may not have been the best approach just yet. BAD MOM. 

Tonight I did articles back in the familiar hallway with Xanadu. She was much more happy about them although I'm still having issues getting her to get up and go to the pile. Once there she did very well this evening with the three leather, three metal and the scented one. Confidence is restoring. We did a bit of signal work too and her sit signal is coming along nicely. Spirit barked and barked for a turn, so she got to practice stays in the back hallway. The first time she got right up to come to me as soon as I turned around. I put her back and she stayed put, but now the problem was laying down when I left her in a sit. After three tries I finally got her to stay in a sit for the whole required minute. Big Party! Then we practiced stand stay/walk around a couple of times. She's about to be solid on that exercise too. Kamikaze was whining for a turn so I practiced signals and moving stand with her outside. She creeps a bit on the down now instead of dropping where she stands. I've changed words on the moving stand now since she's been creeping so bad on it. Seems to be working for now.

Spirit looks like she's almost done leaking. I am having trouble seeing any discharge now and she's certainly not as swollen. So, I am still thinking she'll be OK to show in agility this weekend in Crosby. I'll give her a good bath before we leave Friday.

On a totally other note, Khloe, Kamikaze's sister, is at Siberian nationals. She took second place in the Amatuer Owner Handler class. I saw the placements on the internet and I'm so stoked for them. They have had spooky issues with her and have not been able to show her much. This is soooo huge! Congrats to them.

25th

Even though Spirit is not quite out of season yet, I still took her out to my agility field with Xanadu  this afternoon for a bit of weave practice. She's a tad rusty, but hits the entrance every time. Her downfall seems to be wrapping to the second pole. She's still weaving them at least 50% of the time correctly. She has lost a bit of her speed, but she's not strolling them either. Here's hoping she goes out of season in time for this weekend's agility show. She should, but you never know. Xanadu worked on front crosses and faster dog walks and teeters. Don't know what happened to her lightening fast dog walk. She's still doing it quickly, but I am able to out run her every time when I didn't used to be able to get there to beat her. Her teeter here at the house is great! Her teeter in shows, still WAY too slow. Guess I need to load her up and take her out to the club's field again and work on those teeters.

Xanadu practiced some utility work this evening in the hall. She's doing great on signals and her moving stand. I pulled out the articles too since she struggled some outside with them. I had three of each kind and the scented one. She didn't do well. She wouldn't go to the pile on command. I had to put my hand on her collar and help her or take a step towards them to get her to go. She wasn't sniffing and then when she did pick the right one she wasn't bringing it in with any confidence. ARGH! I hate articles. I know I had the same strugglse with Kamikaze for what seemed like forever trying to get articles to sink in, but somehow it's still just as aggravating.

24th

I had a good time at agility this weekend. I still couldn't pull out a standard Q with anyone even though almost all the standard runs were beautiful. There was always the one little problem. Lego sliding off table, all three missing weave pole entrances, a missed contact for Xanadu. ARGH! Kamikaze and Xanadu both Q'd Friday and Saturday in JWW. Xan's second and third MXJ legs. She even took second on Friday for 9 MACH points. Kamikaze pulled out 16 more MACH points. It's nice to see her getting around 8 per JWW run instead of 4 or 5.
 

Kamikaze really ran well Friday and Saturday. Sunday was, well a bit of a disaster for her. I wasn't as good as I could be and she was not listening as well. I was pleased Xanadu ran so well on Sunday morning since it was her third day in a row. By Sunday afternoon though she wasn't really in to it. Of course it was a good bit warmer on Sunday. Lego had 5 most respectable runs. Then there was number six. OH MY! We were not connecting well and he was all over the place in the wrong directions, but somehow we managed to zag and zig our way around that jumpers course with no true faults. I was shocked to find we'd slipped in just under time what with all that extra yardage and mis-cues. Even more shocked to find he pulled out first place in Exc B JWW even if he did still get zero MACH points.

Grace and Cheryl were with us Friday and Saturday and had respectable runs. Grace is in a new learning phase on weaving. She's just figuring out she can one step them pretty fast at home. So things didn't go so well at the weaves at the show, but Cheryl was good about not making her try over and over.

20th

Monday I took all the 16" and under except poor in season Spirit out to the agility field for practice. Xanadu finally got to get more work on her running dog walk. I put a 16" jump very close to the bottom. After a couple of times of bouncing off the end and struggling to not smash the jump she got the idea that a run down the bottom with a shortened stride right at the bottom made the perfect timing for the jump. YES! It was a nice running dog walk after that. Then I did a little work on her teeter. I'm not liking the stop and wait for the board to creep down. I don't mind a stop while it moves, but one closer to the end will get the board moving a lot faster. Lego did some tables and weaves, Josie did tables and teeters and dog walks (all of which she nailed the contact with a full on stop and lay down on the board), Jedi did some turn work. Jedi doesn't like 180 turns or wrapping jumps. He seems to think they mean he's in trouble or something. Working on lots of food and praise. His weaves were wonderful as were his tables. And miracles of all miracles, there was a tri beagle begging to go next door to the agility field. SO, Sparkle got her first look at it. I wasn't going to make her do any equipment, but I wasn't going to let her just roam around and sniff either. This place is for work, not play. Either she offers agility for the treats I have or we take one walk around the perimeter and leave. Sparkle actually trotted to a jump and took it. Big praise and treats. I walked past the tire, she took it. I started trotting and she started trotting (not walking) and taking whatever was in her path. This included the dog walk, teeter and weaves. Then I tried actual commands in a quiet, easy tone. She did table and jump and teeter and tire and weaves. Tail wagging all the way. Didn't look twice at the scary teeter. OK, so I didn't push my luck and we left the field with a happy dog and a shocked person. Kamikaze did obedience work. Mostly signal and moving stand work. I'm trying a new word for the moving stand to see if we can eliminate the creeping.

Tuesday was obedience practice for all. Spirit worked on heeling and some Advanced rally moves. She still struggles with the stand stay while I walk around. She's now stand stay for me to walk in front and then a bit to the side, but loses it when I get behind her. She sits when she throws her head back to see what I'm doing. I started teaching her the left pivots. Then we worked on her novice stays. I now have a 30 second sit stay at full distance and a 1 1/2 minutes down stay at full distance. Xanadu worked Utility stuff. She is struggling getting the sit from a down in signals. The other ones she's good with. I took her articles outside in the grass for the first time. There were 6 total ones in the pile. She struggles significantly with the new environment. It took her like 5 times to actually sniff the articles and pick one. The first times she was picking one at random and trying it out or just not playing the game at all. Once she sniffed she got it right and I had treats and good words for her. We did it a couple more times with perfect results and called it a good day for articles. The moving stand part she has down perfect. It's the call to heel she doesn't get yet. She wants to come to front. I set the outside gloves out (not #2) and we practiced glove retrieve too. She did great on #3, but couldn't see #1 in the grass. She hasn't learned to trust me and just run that way until she sees it. I had to walk up towards it with her. When she saw it she was like "OH, got it." and brought it back. Kamikaze worked heeling and signals and moving stand again. Another shocker happened today. Sparkle started offering obedience for my treats. I can typically leave her loose while I train and once she sees I want obedience for treats she goes off and does her own thing. So, I let Sparkle do heeling and a drop on recall and one dumbbell retrieve. She was happy the whole time. I didn't push it though.

Tuesday night Misty had a bad night. She woke up disoriented and freaked out. I went to her crate and let her out and she wanted outside. I stood outside on the patio and she wandered too far off for me to see. I went back in. Not 5 minutes later she was barking at the door. Rich let her back in and she wanted out of the bedroom. He took her to her crate. She freaked again. She has nights like this about 2 times a month. Like she wakes up out of a deep sleep and has no idea where she is or who she is. It's also hard because since she's gone deaf you can't console her and assure her you are there with words. You have to go to her. I ended up getting her to lie down on a dog pillow next to the bed and go back to sleep. She's slept in dog pillows her whole life until recently when the aimless wandering started. She wandered off it a couple of times and I took her back. I feel bad for her and her 'old timers' disease.

Today after work Rich and I went to pick up the Expedition from the shop. I was thrilled to have it back with working A/C and a full service job in time for my three days of agility this weekend. I spent at least 30 minutes when I got it home re-loading it with dog stuff. Cheryl and Grace have decided to ride with us this weekend I and was thrilled to find a spare 30" crate hiding out in my dog overrun closet. I was able to fit it side ways behind the standard 2 crates facing the back and there is still plenty of room for our stuff. After the Expedition was done I walked Kamikaze over to the agility field. We worked on our running dog walk contact and started adding a turn after the dog walk instead of a straight line. She did well, but not sure it'll carry over since she was not full on running the bottom plank. She did do weaves off the teeter and weaves off the dog walk. Weaving off a contact is her weakness. Wish I had an A frame to practice on since that seems the hardest for her. We did a bit of wrapping jumps and 180s. She wasn't moving at full speed for me though. So ready for three days of agility!

17th

Kamikaze had an OK run in Utility today. In addition to needing two come signals she brought the wrong glove and kept creeping on the stand. Then did one straight go-out but turned and stood. Second go-out was an arc to the ring gate behind the correct jump with an immediate turn and back over the jump. I knew that the turn and stand would stress her. She knew it was wrong. Xanadu had an OK run too, but at least hers was a Q!! She played stretch on MOM on the front after the recall. She dropped the dumbbell next to my feet on the retrieve on flat. She raced past me with it on the retrieve over high and plopped down to gnaw on it and flip it around as a toy. All these were new behaviors. FUN! It was so bad on the last retrieve that the judge took a couple of steps up behind her to 'push' her towards me. It worked and she moved her gnawing to right beside me. Then the judge could at least say 'Take it'. When I tried to take it she tried to put a paw on it to stop me and then tried to grab it back out of my hands. She did the broad jump, but didn't really ever come to front. I wasn't sure the second dumbbell was a pass or not, and the judge didn't give me any hints. Xan passed her stays again and we found all three Open A dogs entered had Q'd! That's Xan's CDX and her VCD2 title!!!!

Cheryl and Grace got there first RE leg with an OK score. The other big news of the weekend that I've been grinning over all day is Bernie's. He got his first CDX leg today. I feel like I've invested in his Open training and it feels almost as good as my dog Q'ing!

16th

Kamikaze had a fabulous run in Utility A this morning! I was thrilled to have her do an almost perfect set of go-outs. First time to pass them in the ring. If only I could give good signals! We're now collectively struggling with the come signal. Xanadu had a very nice run in Open A, but didn't get her elbows down on the drop on recall. There were interesting noises she needed to check on. But, she passed the down stay for the first time in like 6 tries. I left the show just as happy as ever. Then this afternoon I put my rubber surface on my teeter. Here's pics of the finished product. LOVE IT! 
 

Jedi and Josie tried out the dog walk too. Both hesitated a bit on the way up, but after that they were fine. The odd thing to me was I realized I use sound to track them as I run next to the dog walk. They make NO NOISE running on rubber. ZIP, NADDA, NONE. Interesting to work them now as I have to run looking more sideways. 

15th

I dropped by Cheryl's work when we took the Expedition in. She is loaning me Grace's seatbelt harness until the Expedition comes home since Kamikaze and Grace are so similar in size. This makes me feel so much better about Kamikaze riding in the tight confines of the car this weekend. I came home from dropping of the Expedition for service to find the rubber skins for my teeter and dog walk were here! I immediately swept them off to the new agility field to begin installation. Rich pressure washed the teeter since it had a surface on it currently while I started gluing the skins to the dog walk. We finished the dog walk, but not the teeter tonight. I am so stoked to have rubber on the contacts now. It should be much more durable. As darkness fell and we came in I remembered I should have been bathing dogs for the show tomorrow. OOPS!

14th

I got in the Expedition to head out to obedience class tonight and discovered the A/C is not cooling. ARGH! Good thing it's October and it was only 78 degrees or so. We stayed cool enough with the windows down. This does present some issues for coming weekends. I'd like to know I have A/C working in case it gets hot at the agility trials coming up. Well, I guess I'll try packing up Kamikaze and Xanadu in the car for the obedience show this weekend and see about dropping of the Expedition for service tomorrow. Hope all my stuff fits. Don't know how Kazee will do in the car. I know Xan will curl up in a seat and do fine.

Obedience practice went well though. Kamikaze did all her Utility exercises beautifully. Wish I could video tape and send in for my legs! Xanadu also did her stuff well. If she'll just do her down stay! Since official classes were over last week the only group of people out tonight were CGC class members. The CGC test is in two weeks and they'll meet right up until then. Since Cheryl is in that class with the old man, Teddy and I know another lady there with her GSD, I stuck around to watch and help out. Kamikaze got to play 'strange' dog for their meet and greet practice. Several dogs thought she looked very interesting and engaging. Xanadu played 'strange' dog just before class let out and the dogs didn't find her near as interesting.

12th

I started trying out the agility field Sunday. Between then and now all the current agility dogs have had at least one turn out there. Everyone seems to like it fine. I only have a little trouble with the beagles sniffing. It's understandable at this point though. There is still fairly fresh deer and rabbit droppings out there. I was pleased to see Spirit do her weaves just as well over there as she's been doing here! With all my excitement over the agility field I have neglected the obedience practice I should have been doing for this upcoming weekend. ARGH!

The vet actually made me bring Spirit in before he would sign off on her excuse for the next two weekends! REALLY? Like I haven't been going to him since he opened out here (at least 10 years ago) and like I can't tell when a bitch is in season? Then he tells me to be sure and keep her locked up good. "You're the one that made me bring her in!", I said. Sometimes I don't get him!

Cheryl asked me to go with her to visit a co-worker with a new puppy tonight. Seems they are at their wits end and wanted help before their obedience class starts in a couple of weeks. Turns out puppy (Rocket) is a wonderful dog, just a high energy puppy who doesn't understand what is acceptable play and what isn't. Mostly a gnawing on and jumping on humans problem. I liked Rocket. Very cool!

9th

Today we focused on getting the agility field fencing finished. Not only did we get it finished, but I got all the agility equipment moved except tunnel and chute which I don't want just sitting in the elements. There wasn't any time to try it out though as dark fell just as soon as I got everything over there. So excited! Take a video tour here.

On a not as fun note, it looks like Spirit is going into season. Couldn't she have planned better and been in season the end of last month and beginning of this month. As it is I am thinking she'll miss two good weekends. No Rally Novice title for her next weekend and no agility in Kiln, MS the weekend after. 21 days of season does give her a chance at agility in Crosby, TX at the end of the month.

7th

Today was a pretty day! This afternoon I took the old ladies, Nikita, Shelby and Misty, out for a stroll. I really do mean a 'stroll'. One with bad knees, one with bad hips and one with very little rear end stability makes for a very slow wander. I put leashes on them for the walk to the end of the road. Leashes seem stupid with them as they are just too old to really go anywhere, but I wanted to be sure they were close enough I could protect them from loose and wandering dogs. We didn't encounter any dogs on the way to the end, so I took all the leashes off for the walk back and let them wander their way back to the house at their leisure. It was a heartwarming, yet heart wrenching stroll. I was thinking of all the wonderful years we had together and all the things they've done with me. Then, of course, the thoughts of how short the time we have left with them must be.

Small amounts of weave pole practice are happening most days. Spirit is coming along nicely. I find Kamikaze and Xanadu's hardest weave entrances are on-side flat ones. They tend to curl in early and miss the first pole or two. Both are great on flat off side entrances though.

I haven't set up any go-out practice since I frustrated myself and Kamikaze. I did, however, load ring gates and jumps in the Expedition to haul to obedience tonight. I set up everything first so I could work Kamikaze. Her heeling was great. Signals good. Then I went straight to go-outs. She did a wonderful, straight go-out. Sat the first time. Took the right jump. I had a small party. Much squealing and hugging and treating. I set her up for the second one expecting a less than the former perfect performance. She typically does worse the second time if she's right the first time. She doesn't understand re-doing something you already got right. I was happily surprised. She did the second one just as straight and sat the first try and took the right jump. Another party! And I called that a wrap for her practice. So, not going any farther tonight. Can't imagine a better note to walk away on. Xanadu practiced figure eight heeling and go-outs and directed jumping. She did a half go-out perfectly a couple of times. Then it took a couple of times for her to remember to take the jumps on the way back. Nice practice though. Spirit joined class at 7. She's never had enough focus to make it the whole hour, so I haven't pushed her more than she was willing. Tonight she made it through 45 minutes of the hour class. Her heeling is improving immensely. She's not getting as distracted as she used to. Overall I had a great feeling leaving class tonight.

The special Misty pillow in her the sleeping crate has been working wonders for her comfort at night too!

5th

Yesterday Spirit and Xanadu went in for their yearly check-ups. All is well. The girls at the vet were shocked at how close I was when I told the weights. Within a half pound for Xan (I said 18 and she was 18.5) and even closer on Spirit (I said 26 and she was 26.3). I'd like to get Spirit back to 25 though 26 doesn't look bad on her at all. We're also struggling with Sparkle gaining weight. Seems her metabolism finally slowed to something more normal for an adult when she hit 4. Trying to get those couple of pounds back off her and figure out the right amount of food for her now.

Yesterday I also I got back to weave pole practice with Spirit. She is coming along so well now. She is keeping forward momentum well all the time, bouncing them about 30% of the time. I opened up the Three Dog Bakery treats that she won in Mobile. Everyone went NUTS for them. So even though crunchy treats are typically out of the question for training since they take a while to chew and bits tend to fall out that must be hunted down, I made an exception this time. Kamikaze even practiced go-outs for them with great enthusiasm.  

Today Kamikaze did more go-out practice. She will run towards nothing with great speed if she saw me walk out and set a target down. Even if it was out at 50 feet or more. But, if she didn't see a target dropped somewhere out there, she doesn't go. She also seems more apt to go towards a fence or tree if there is one anywhere in sight even if it's well off to one side. So, she doesn't quite get the 'run in a straight line' part of go-outs yet either. I think I frustrated her (I know I did me) trying to get her to go to the front door. She kept peeling hard to the left and going to the fence. I hate how sometimes I get openly frustrated and can't stop myself from showing it. She knows when I am, and it certainly doesn't help any. ARGH! Spirit did a few more sets of weaves for the last Three Dog Bakery cookies. I'd venture to say that she is weaving here at home almost as well as Xanadu was when I started her showing. We'll see how it carries over to a show in a couple of weeks. I vow to not try and baby her entrances or even try to control the speed she's going. She can do it without me intruding so much!

3rd

On the way home from church we made a Sam's Club stop. The excuse was to pick up some paper towels, but we all know how Sam's sucks you in. While we were there we bought a couple of things to try and make Misty's life a bit easier in her old age. There was a pillow there made from re-claimed memory foam. What that appears to amount to is channels sewn in to the pillow that are then packed with shredded old memory foam. The result is a memory foam -like pillow, but more bendable and pliable while still supporting the body and joints equally like regular memory foam. The other purchase with Misty in mind was an area rug for the living room. She is struggling staying up on the wood and laminate floors. Her rear end just slides out from under her a lot. If we could find a runner for the kitchen area I'd put one there too. The pillow was placed in her sleeping crate. Hopefully it will help her stay comfortable all night and not find her spinning and scratching at her bedding so much.

When we got home Rich and I took on the task of starting the agility field fencing. The fencing we chose is 4' high horse and field fencing. It is like the plain old galvanized stuff, but made from much sturdier wire and made to last 20 years or more. We decided rather than wrestle with the 200 ft rolls as we stretched fence we'd cut sections and put them up 20-60 feet at a time. Since we have concreted in wood posts at all the corners and approximately half way up each side as well as at all the gates, the goal was to fence wooden post to wooden post. This method worked well for us and in about 3 hours we had 150' of fence up. I hoping next weekend to finish off the fencing and start moving equipment over there!

2nd

Rich and I spent the morning and part of the afternoon re-surfacing my dogwalk. I've been spending odd hours the last week trying to take off the old pressed wood. By today I had the center section and one ramp cleaned off to the skeleton. Rich set up the table saw and pulled out the drills while I finished up cleaning off the last ramp of the old stuff. The concrete board wasn't hard to cut with the masonry blade after all. We did make a quick trip to the local hardware store to pick out some suitable screws for holding the concrete board on the frame. The center section was tackled first. The installing after cutting didn't go too badly either. Rich piloted holes for the screws and used a bit to open a circular notch in the top of the concrete board so the screws wouldn't stick up. About the time he finished the center part I had finished the last ramp. So, the ramps went fast with two people manning the tools. He drilled and I screwed. The pieces were surprisingly lighter after the concrete board was on than they were with pressed wood and paint. Now I'm all excited about the rubber roll-out skins that are coming for the dogwalk and teeter! Clean Run has said they should ship next week. Here's my pretty ramp waiting on it's new covering.

After the dogwalk project was completed Rich whipped over to the agility field and finished up the last side that still needed t-posts driven in. WOW! We really made good progress on my goals for the weekend.