2012 training goals

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Kamikaze had her first try at woods tracking this afternoon. The track was 2.5 hours old. Started in field, then through light woods to exit in field. One article in woods. She did an awesome job. We had some confusion as she approached the woods. She tried to track around the outside of them at first before deciding to traipse in. Once in the woods she did a great job following the track. She alerted to the article too. A little searching upon exiting the woods (pretty normal), but right on to the glove pretty quickly. Must spend time teaching her more TDX work!


There was a photographer at the show this weekend. Here are some pictures she took. Also, Kamikaze got her Master Jumper GOLD title this past weekend. That's 75 Excellent B Q's in Jumpers.


I had a great time at the Swamp Dogs' agility show this year. Last year this was the show that Kamikaze and I made a two run appearance at with the big honking knee brace and the pronounced limp just 11 weeks after surgery. I was sure to do better this year.  I started my weekend on Thursday afternoon, but Cheryl didn't get to come until Friday morning. So the dogs and I had the camper to ourselves Thursday night. The weekend started out well with Kamikaze getting a QQ, but the temps were in the high 80's (kinda hot) and there were grouchy people because of the heat. Well, like they say in Louisiana, just stick around. Temps on Saturday were in the 50's with a biting wind, and there were grouchy people because it was cold. Cheryl and I both brought tracking gear and we managed to talk ourselves out of actually tracking with the temps and all.
Kamikaze had a stellar weekend. She came home with 3 QQ's and a T2B Q. 

She was one bad choice from 4 QQ in standard. She ran behind me with me calling and took a jump before she turned. Lego ran well in Jumpers all weekend, but we still didn't manage any QQ's. Xanadu ran all her runs fairly well. She is much faster when the temps are cooler though. She finally Q'd in Jumpers again. Spirit actually ran OK for her. She was one second over time in Standard on Sunday. Sprigs had to have her one clown around run when the temps dropped. Very funny. She did manage her 2nd AX leg too though.
We had an interesting geyser experience on Sunday morning in the cold. Someone's dog leash dropped behind the PVC water pipe sticking up by the arena and it snapped off. One of the frequent competitors around here is apparently a retired plumber dude. He used a weave pole to direct the spray and then managed to reattach the hook with the hose attachment to the top and run the hose to the ditch until the arena staff could get there for a repair.

On the way home Kayak had an 'explosion' in his crate. So, today I spent a couple of hours taking everything out of the Expedition and cleaning and returning it to its state. While I was at it I took out some crates in the camper and tried a new arrangement. One of its crates swapped with one in the vehicle and I am now in need of one more 36" crate for the camper. Ebay is my friend.

This afternoon I laid a track for Bernie and Cheryl to run at lunch. It was in the high 50's and there was a decent breeze. He rocked that track. I'm feeling good about his chances of passing this weekend in Houston.


In the process of track laying in the almost dark of morning this past weekend I managed to give myself a nice Halloween scratch. It's the result of a sticker VINE that was reaching up into a tree.

I got a video of how Kayak's coming on his retrieving. Amazed at how fast he got this down after I found a way to get through to him!
Yesterday I heard the dogs out back going NUTS. I went out to see what was up and they were wedged in the corner closest to Windy's area and were barking up a storm. A minute later I see Windy come racing down Cedar and Jedi's fence line and skid to a halt in front of the fence close to the dogs. Then she took off again. I think she was intentionally stirring them up! So funny to think of the horse as playing around with the dogs. Oh, and Windy approves of Honey Nut Cheerios and Frosted Mini Wheats too.

I've got 4 days of agility coming up. Taking off Thursday morning with the work crowd to head to Mississippi with the camper. The weather predictions look great too!


Yesterday I was able to lay out a track for Cheryl and Bernie on her lunch hour. Bern did a great job on his track. Cheryl's sending off entries for him to try for that title again the first weekend in Nov. We'll play agility close by on Sat. and then hopefully track on Sun. We arranged for a tracking practice day for today while we were at it.

I was out laying tracks at 6:15 am. It was a bit chilly (48 degrees) and all the grass was damp with dew. I started by laying a track in an empty area close to home for Kamikaze. It was still dark enough to be hard to see and the grass was taller than expected. Then on into Denham to lay out a track with some woods work for Cheryl and Grace. When I got back home around 7 the bottoms of my pants were soaked. I took them off and threw them in the dryer until time to go back out and run tracks. About 8:15 I headed out with 4 dogs in tow to start tracking. Kamikaze did her two hour old, field only track with 2 articles to find like an old pro. We need to start some woods work and cross track work. I know she has a TDX hidden in her. Of course the temps will have to be some insane amount of cold for her to not poop out on such a long track. On we went to meet Cheryl near her house for Lego's two hour old, field track with 3 articles to fine. I was so proud of Lego. He actually started the track in the first minute instead of farting around like usual. He did a beautiful track! He didn't stop for the plastic article, but he marched right over so I was able to pick it up. It was an interesting experience to track him right after Kazee. With Kazee on the line you are trotting to keep from getting pulled over when she is on the track. So is trot several steps and  stop for a nano second or two while she checks herself and then trot or get yanked off your feet. Lego walks with some decent intent and at a nice stroll pace for the whole track. A much difference experience as a handler. Loaded back in cars we headed out for the track I laid for Grace. It was about 3 hours old when she got on it. She was so excited she spent the first few minutes racing circles around the flag before she could settle in to work. She did great even in the woods. Cheryl laid a short two turn to age for Kayak while we played with Spice and Sprigs. I laid out a short two turn for Sprigs in a corner of Grace's field that we hadn't used. She did really well even in grass she had to bounce to get through because it was so tall.

After Spice had a turn then Kayak's track was 30 minutes old and we went off to it. He started well. He really leans in to harness now when he knows he's on track. He's adopting Kamikaze's style quickly. He did what I thought was a wonderful job, but somehow missed the glove by being too far to the left of the track. He did keep tracking Cheryl though. He was headed right out of the field. We had to reel him in and walk back a good distance to find the glove. He did alert to it this time.

After tracking we took all the dogs home and headed to the outlet mall for a quick shopping trip. One of our favorite stores was having a 40% off everything sale. I picked up a couple of shirts and a dress there. Then on to VF Factory. That netted a pair of jeans, pair of shorts, sweatpants and a shirt. Nice day!

And here's a nice shot of what the dogs think of the cooling weather pattern in the mornings.


I got out and did some tracking this morning. I laid Xanadu a track with some woods to traverse and let it age 2.5 hours. While I was waiting on that one I laid Kayak and Sprigs some short tracks here close to home with no food on the way (first time). Kayak did very well on the first two legs. The first one was a long straight one. He struggled a bit on turn two with getting tired of the game, but got all excited when he found the track again. Turn three was almost the end of him trying. It took me a bit to convince him to keep on and then 20 feet away was the glove. It was almost a perfect spot for him to try to quit on me because he got an almost instant reward for keeping on past his tolerance level. That's the best way to build tolerance. Sprigs only had one turn. I was glad to see her start well. She still struggles with getting distracted looking at the flying insects and such. She made the turn well, but wanted to get off track on the last leg for some other scent. By the time I'd done those tracks here it was time to drive back to Xanadu's track. Since it was just her and me I took the car instead of the dogmobile. She makes the cutest co-pilot ever.

She did a great job starting her track and she pulled straight into the woods at the right spot. She found the article in the woods. Then she struggled to stay on human scent when it turned in the woods and the track layer (me) didn't clearing taper mark the woods. Lesson learned! When I got her out of the woods in the general area of the track I showed her the article just outside the woods and then she finished fine. Then we went to Chick-Fil-A for lunch. I left her tied to an outside table with the employees I know well watching to be sure no one took her. I ordered and brought my food outside and untied her and just put a foot next to her leash. Everyone was shocked at how well trained she was as she laid politely and watched me eat, did a stay while I took my trash to the can too. I guess I am so used to well mannered dogs I forget most people have hooligans.

I did some more obedience work since my equipment is still out. Kayak got his first lesson on backing up in heel position and stopping in a stand in heel position as well as a moving stand. He is a quick study. He half length go-outs to the ring gating too. I started adding sit to the go-out and he's coming along. I MUST start at least making him pick up articles since he hates the idea of dumbbells so much. I have upped the ante for his dinner though. He must now to a formal retrieve on flat and retrieve over the jump (at 16") before he gets dinner. Tonight he was perfect on both of them the first try.

Kamikaze got refresher on go-outs and directed jumping as well as signals. MUCH improved over last time we tried. 

Then Kayak, Xandau, Sprigs and I met Cheryl and Spice out at the agility field tonight. Kayak tried out a numbered course that was already set up. Don't know why the dogwalk wasn't in it, but whatever. I was pleased and feeling good about his debut in a couple of months. He also did a jumpers course. Another nice run. I see I need to work serpentines though. Failed both times (one in each course). Sprigs talked to all the teeters out there. I was pleased to see her making the same mistake that she does in shows. It took us several tries to 'fix' the bail off the side. Then she was fine on all the teeters. Hoping the 'fix' sticks this time! Xanadu ran the 'standard' course and then rested 30 minutes while we worked other guys and then tried the jumpers course. She just WILL NOT stretch out in jumpers. I had to stop at least three times in the course and have a talk with her about walking. Each time I stopped and restarted she sped up again. UGH.

A cute photo representation of what eating around Xanadu is like if she thinks she can push the limits of her trained behavior. The first picture is typical of Xanadu when there is food somewhere that she thinks you've forgotten about. She MUST point to it.


I got my obedience equipment set up out front for practice this morning. Xanadu ROCKED utility. She did a full article pile, full distance signals and full distance go-outs. Sprigs did a wonderful job out front with her Novice exercises. She has struggled outside with all the distractions of bugs and such. If I practice stays religiously she may be ready to show in Novice by next year. Twinkle showed a very small glimmer of hope practicing Rally moves out front. Maybe in a couple of years I will be brave enough to try Rally with her. Spirit even did Open exercises (minus broad jump) very well. She doesn't go to the dumbbell on first command religiously yet and she needs lots of stay work too. I started out of sight stay work with Kayak since I am hoping to have him out of Novice in the next couple of months. Kamikaze was rusty. She missed the jump on her left multiple times after her go-out. I wonder if that's the worst eye? She did good on articles and signals though.


I had a great time in Memphis. I got there Thursday for lunch and took Mom around to get errands done Thursday afternoon. Then I dropped by Karen's Thursday night for a bit. Had to be up and out pretty early Friday since I needed gas and had to set up six crates at the show site. Friday started very well. Xanadu ran a decent speed in Standard for her 7th MX leg. Lego and Kamikaze both Q'd in Standard too. Sprigs was the only non Q and it was for a weave fault. Not an uncommon thing for her first run of the weekend. She's still very new at this. So with three chances at QQ's going into jumpers I was feeling good. Well, I got ZERO QQs. Lego knocked a bar in a pinwheel (very unlike him), Xanadu WALKED jumpers for a clean run that was 4 seconds over time and Kamikaze missed a hard weave pole entrance cause she didn't turn tight enough. Sprigs couldn't manage a Q in jumpers either. Friday night was homecoming at my high school. I haven't been to a football game in... uhm.. 10 years I think. I didn't see more than the first few plays and then I was busy talking to people. One of my high school best buddies, Shannon, and her family were there. We talked for an hour or so and planned to meet up for dinner the next night along with another friend, Scott, and his wife.

Saturday didn't start as well, but hey, Lego Q'd in Standard again. Sprigs decided she would jump off the side of the teeter about half way up. (*ugh* no this again) Spirit actually tried for the most part, but passed a couple of jumps. Kamikaze didn't make it and I can't remember why. Just my luck, Lego did a 'Lego' thing in Jumpers and just spaced out and walked past a jump with his nose in the air. Spirit didn't even take jump #2 and got carried off. Sprigs had a weave problem again. Kamikaze blew in in Jumpers too. OH well, on to dinner. We had a fabulous time and spent two hours at the table and then decided to move on to a patio at the Starbucks down the street. Man, there's nothing like old friends that have known you at your best and worst and still like you. We need to keep in touch more.

Sunday Xanadu got her 8th MX leg, but it was like pulling teeth to get around under time. Lego had a weave pole issue, Kamikaze only did 10 poles, Sprigs bailed the teeter again and Spirit did a mediocre job of getting around the whole thing eventually. Then Xanadu WALKED jumpers again. *ugh* Lego and Sprigs both had issues. Spirit refused jump 2 again and got carried off. Kamikaze saved the day by making around that course though. Not my best weekend, but it was great to see people I rarely see.

Mom and I sat around the house this morning and then I took off for home. Can't wait to be back that way in December for some USDAA.


Today was 'get the Expedition ready to leave for Memphis Thursday' day. I took it by the small repair place in town and got them to change the oil and check the computer to see if it recorded anything that needed repairs. They said the computer was clear. So, I took it in to get an inspection sticker on the way back home. Apparently, it was clear from their point of view too since I got the sticker with no problem. Around here, any computer record of 'check engine' light coming on requires a repair order filled out to get a sticker. She's been driving fine since the incident on the way to Gulfport, so I'm feeling pretty good about her.

I also pulled out all the doggie coats and got them washed up to take this weekend in case the early mornings are chilly. I had one heart tug moment when Misty's coat fell out of the coat box. *sigh*

I've been fighting a bad rash on Sprigs' belly since I got home from the show. One main problem is keeping her from chewing it or licking it while I treat it. I went by the baby section at WalMart. The t-shirts were on sale, so I got her one for a buck. It's cute, and it keeps her off the belly for the most part. A half a Benadryl twice a day and a good Cortisone slathering at least once a day for a few days should get it under control.


Cheryl had to work all day Thursday. I decided to wait on her to get here to take off for the agility show. It's nice to have someone to ride with and share gas costs with. So we were off at around 6:15 for a two and a half hour drive pulling the camper. Pulling camper at night is not my favorite thing. It felt like the camper was pulling rougher than usual.  Of course if things are going to go sideways it's going to happen when you're out at night. And so, right on cue, the Expedition started blinking its engine light at me only 30 minutes or so down the road. It was blinking and not solid on, so I asked Cheryl to pull out the book and see what that was supposed to mean rather than pull over. About the time she found the right page in the book, the light went off and stayed off the rest of the trip. Apparently it means the engine was misfiring and that it could cause potential catalytic converter damage. We got to the arena around 8:45-9 and found I couldn't back the camper straight back into a spot because of the slope of there. The rear jacks of the camper would hit the ground. Had to get parallel to spots and swing the camper back in. A bit more difficult, but not bad. Then because of the slope I couldn't get he camper front high enough to raise it off the hitch of the vehicle. Had to hunt around arena for something we could put on the ground under the front of the camper hitch that could support its weight and gives us a few more inches. Didn't take long to find some landscaping timbers. One of them was all I needed to get the trailer off the hitch. Lesson learned! Will have blocks in camper storage for next trip. Then trying to fill up the doggie water bowl in the camper caused the the propane alarm to go off. Thursday evening didn't go so well. The one good thing was that Cheryl and I were both able to run our baby dogs in the match. I ran Kayak while she leveled the camper and she ran Spice while I set up the inside. (As a side note, I did send her to run her dog while I leveled, but when she got in there they were on big dog heights, so we switched) Both baby dogs did great on strange equipment in a new place! Kayak's only issue was with the 20" ring. It took me three tries to get him through it and not under it. We need to practice the smaller diameter tire more. He did do all the contacts (to criteria) the first try, a viaduct jump (never seen before) first try and the weaves correctly the first try coming off the teeter. To top of Thursday, Josie started this dry coughing in the night. UGH

Friday Kamikaze did well. She got a standard and a jumpers Q. Josie got picked up in Gamblers when she started coughing then Q'd in jumpers. Xanadu ran a great standard run that might have even been a Q if she'd have done the tire the first try and not taken it backwards. Then she was clean in jumpers, but a couple of seconds over time for walking the first few obstacles. I was very happy with everyone. The best news was Grace getting her last PI standard leg for her Performance Dog title. After the show we went to eat with several show people at a restaurant of their choosing. Suffice it to say I would NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS stopped at that place had I been trucking along on my own! It was called "The Shed" and fairly much looked the part, ratty and haphazard. They served "Bar-B-Q" of many sorts. The food was mediocre, expensive (for waht you got) and the service was lacking. Then Josie coughed several times during the night waking us up.

Saturday we got up and each laid out a short track for the other person's young dog. I overestimated Spice's commitment to the game and pushed her about 30 feet too far for her concentration. Luckily I was able to take the good treats and walk out to the road and come up the gravel to stand right behind her glove. With that done she was more interested in coming forward down the track towards me and she was certainly getting my scent up her nose and she came the last distance to find her glove. She was able to get her success treats. With her turn taking a bit longer than expected, Kayak's track was 25 minutes or so when we got to it. He is doing much better about starting from the flag immediately. He has developed a great tracking posture when he's serious about his job. He is young and throws his head up every 10-20 feet to look around. I remember Kamikaze doing that at this age, so I wait him out and he gets back to work. He did a wonderful job tracking someone other than me and finding his turns. He's just going to get better as he matures and he can hold concentration for longer periods of time. Kamikaze was entered in Snooker and Pairs. She was OH DARN, so close to getting a Q on a tricky snooker course and the same in pairs (as we both had one fault we ended up less than a second over time). Josie ran Gamblers, but no Gamble happened. Xanadu was in Snooker and standard. She was OH SO CLOSE to her Advanced Snooker Q (ARGH) and then was not running for standard, but trotting. Saturday evening Cheryl and I went into town and were headed to an O'Charleys when Cheryl mentioned a PetSmart close by. We stopped there first and it was a good thing. We found a Longhorn Steakhouse (much more preferable to eat at) in the shopping area with PetSmart. When we got back to the camper we took the young ones out for some off lead exercise time. We were lucky to see the horses (with riders) coming up towards the campers in time to leash them and watch the horses walk by. We continued off leash time at the back of the complex. It was supposed to cool off nicely, so we turned the camper AC off and cracked all the windows. Worked out perfect!

Sunday morning Kamikaze and Josie made a valiant attempt at a gamble that had a 0% Q rate. When the world team member couldn't get his dog through we all admitted defeat! Xanadu made a decent effort at standard, but still started the course at a trot. Finished well though. Kamikaze took an off course in Standard that I knew was coming and still couldn't stop. Cheryl and I took the young ones out for off leash exercise in the middle of the day today. They were having a blast and right near the end of the time we had Kayak spotted a bunny at the edge of the field. OK, bunny was playing "you don't see me" and being very still and I'm not sure Kayak knew what he was racing to investigate. BUT, still, I saw it and him aimed at it and I gave a happy recall command and prayed the bunny didn't decided to run at the last second. He turned on a dime and came back with intent! Luckily his buddy, Spice, who had no idea there was a critter, chased him back. Cheryl had no idea either and as I was putting my hand through Kayak's collar I said (still in the sing-song, happy, happy recall voice) "Get you dog before she sees the bunny!" We got both kids on leash and walked off before bunny moved a muscle. Now that's a proud recall moment!

I was proud of everyone this weekend and we had a blast doing some USDAA. I was especially proud Xanadu only hit one bar all weekend at 16".


Once again Kayak and Sprigs got to track this morning. Sprigs struggled with concentration. She kept looking around and getting distracted by anything. She did track well when she was tracking and she finished her track without help. Kayak is now leaning into the harness and pulling my arms off when he is sure of the track. Then after 10 strides he looses the track and wanders around looking lost. Reminds me quite a bit of Kamikaze, his aunt, and her progression through tracking learning. Twinkle is some offended that she hasn't gotten to track. I even had to crate her in the house during tracking because she was going to dart out the door come hell or high water. I need to find space and time to give her a turn.

I set an 18" jump between Kayak and his dumbbell today. He took it fine going out and went around it coming back. Typically 'new dog' training issue. It isn't that he won't jump with his dumbbell in his mouth (that was Nikita's problem) because I could hand him the dumbbell and direct him to jump and he would. It took three tries to get the jump on the return of a retrieve. I am just thrilled with how well this new training approach is working for him. Two weeks ago he wouldn't pick up the dumbbell off any surface and now we have full retrieves.

The temperatures here are somewhat moderate now. Highs in the low to mid 80s. With slightly less intense heat the Siberians have once again taken up a favorite perch.

I had a phone screening job interview today. I think it went well and they are passing my resume to head of hiring for the department. I may have an on site interview next week.

Tomorrow Cheryl and I are heading out for a USDAA agility show in Mississippi. Here's hoping Xanadu can find a jumpers, snooker and two standard Q's. (not big dreams or anything) OK, one Standard and a jumpers or snooker would be nice. Josie and Kamikaze are running a couple of times a day. It should be fun and there is plenty of room to lay tracks in our free time for practice.

I laid small tracks for Kayak and Sprigs this morning. Sprigs rocked her track and Kayak did some 'young dog that can't concentrate maneuvers' during parts of his, We also had two discussions about focusing on tracking and not marking. He's the first guy I've had to be very strict about pottying while in the working harness. Then I headed out around lunch time today to lay a track for Cheryl and Bern. she's really hunting to finish his TD title before he has to re-certify in March. Our usual field close to her work/home hadn't been mowed in a month or more, so I had to improvise. There was enough grass around a Lowe's to track. Of course it made the direction of the track fairly evident by the lay of the land. Bern knew what the game was and kept his nose down well.

Just after I got home I went out to check on Windy and I see this down the street (towards the exiting end of the road).

UHM.. WHOOPS?!? Dude, didn't you know it poured rain here for two straight days? At least he was stuck with enough room for a car to get by behind him. I walked down there to check because I needed to know if the bank and grocery trip I was planning was going to have to wait until tomorrow.

Well, I took my problems head on today. Sent out several resumes. Had to FIND my resume first. I haven't updated it since 2007. I even got a call back this afternoon from someone headhunting that I sent my resume to. I guess that's good news. The funny thing is that it's a job with a company that works with lending software which is where I started my computer journey back in the late 90s. My heart is heavy and I've shed many tears today. But at least I am doing something about things. Maybe that will help me sleep tonight. Friends suggest I become a professional dog trainer. The idea has promise, but also requires insurance, a place to have classes and getting my name out there. Don't know that there is a market for more dog trainers in the area either. Then there's dealing with crazy owners...

On the animal front things are good. Spirit had her yearly checkup today. I got an estimate on a spay surgery for her and set up an appointment to take care of that. I have a few weeks to change my mind if the money is not there. She also seems to have an ear infection. I can't see any goo in her left ear, but vet says it's down there. She HATES ear cleaning. Now we are on a clean ear, put in drops once a day for the next 10 days. Guess she is traveling with me to Gulfport this weekend even though she's not entered. I got a full dumbbell retrieve from Kayak for his dinner tonight. That includes a quiet' wait' while I threw it and a retrieve on command with a fairly decent 'sit in front'. Mild mouthing and only very small noises. I've already started the retrieve over jump too. He's done a retrieve over a 12" jump with no problem. This afternoon to help calm my world I took Windy for a walk. Not, a ride, a walk. Just put a lead rope on her and explored our area. It's too sloppy from all the rain over the weekend and some today to work her in the pasture. She hasn't been 'out' in a month or more. She was a fruit loop for the first 15 minutes or so, but settled nicely after that. We walked right through some kids playing basketball, stood close to a man with a circular saw and nail gun and went to visit the horse friends down the street. The school bus spooked her the first three times, but the fourth time she did well with it. We walked some and grazed some along the way.

The kids did find a way to get a smile out of me today. Only one though. Then they went crazy barking in the house and I found the reason across the street.

The momma deer (on your far right) kept a good eye on me and eventually snorted and took off.