2007 training goals

September 2007

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Got back from the AKC agility show around 4pm. Lego had some very nice runs this weekend and a couple of slow, uninterested ones. He started off the weekend with a bang. He got his OAJ the first run of Saturday. We were going well, and then all of a sudden he came to a dead stop and put his nose on the ground. After 5 seconds or so of trying to get him going again, all of a sudden his head was up and we were off. He even hit his weave pole entry first try and stayed in. It was actually a CLEAN run, but I wasn't sure about the time since we'd screwed around sniffing. We did end up over time, but that's OK to an extent in Open so we pulled an 88 and a third place Q. He'd have won the class if not for that episode. Of course, I left the camera at home, but thanks to the Coxes we have a title shot.  I was very happy with him this weekend. Thank you Stuart Mah seminar!

Rosey and Red came. On Saturday he was scared and nervous, but Sunday he ran happy. Erin and Galadriel pulled out jumpers Q, but not that last AX leg. Dawna ran Mandy's pug with some success.


Monday I finally got around to working with Shelby again on Utility. Figured it was about time since she entered in JOTC obedience shows at the end of October. I started with heeling with no leash and no reassurance. When she started heeling with her head up, then I made a big fuss over what a good dog she was. She did every Utility exercise right the first try except the articles and the signals. The articles took a few tries to regain confidence. On the signals she failed the down the first try, but was right on the second time. 

Kamikaze went to conformation class Monday night. She was the only attendee again! So that's private lesson number 3 for us. She moves well for anyone at the end of the leash. Her weakness is manual stacking. I haven't worked much on that and she fidgets something awful. Her free stack is improving though. I really need to practice the manual stacking at home some to get her to understand what I want.

Tuesday was the club meeting that I skipped. Tonight was Kamikaze's agility class. She looked very good this week too! She's even about to figure out how her growth is changing the teeter. She did several very nice teeters tonight. I kept trying to back cross a tunnel forgetting that she's still so new, so I kept pulling her out. BAD MOMMA! Her A-frame performance is very nice. She is always under control on her decent with her butt well under her. I took Josie and Sparkle along to work on their issues. Josie, of course, has no problem with table downs and dog walk contacts at the training facility. So, I'm still at a loss of how to fix it in shows other than to NOT raise my voice at her and wait for the appropriate behavior (that she knows) to happen so I can make a big deal of it. Sparkle needs some good weave pole work and a little teeter improvement. We worked on just that, but it didn't seem to get us anywhere this time. Hopefully it's one of those things that sinks in over time. I also worked on her table SIT. Since her default is DOWN (on purpose) I am having trouble convincing her after the down that a SIT will get treats too. I guess I over emphasized the default DOWN. Oh, well, there could be worse problems on that front. At least she'll be right a majority of the time :)

Saturday morning Lego and I are off to Brandon, MS for an AKC agility show weekend. Here's hoping for the best!


Sparkle ran a track this afternoon. She did very well at the turns this time. I am hoping she's got her groove back. I let Nikita out with Kamikaze and Sparkle for a bit while I was picking up the yard. Sparkle started the 'chase me game' and Nikita took off after her. Too bad Nikita can't make those sharp turns anymore. Sparkle was able to dodge her at will. Kazee, on the other hand caught her a couple of times. Nikita seemed to forget her legs/knee aren't quite back to normal strength though. She tried to jump from a run to the top of the picnic table, a move she's done a zillion times here, but she didn't quite make it and caught her front paws on the top and kinda smashed her body. She managed to pull herself up there, but was holding her bad leg up. I helped her down and took her in still holding that leg up. And here I thought  I was doing her good by letting her exercise. I gave her some anti-inflammatory and she was walking fine in the next 30 minutes. Guess it was more of an ouch than any damage. I did get some shots of the guys enjoying the first day of fall.


Kamikaze and Sparkle attended their respective obedience classes tonight. Kazee joined the CGC class since she's scheduled to take the test next month. She did much better heeling than expected. She might actually be ready for Rally Novice at the end of Oct. I need to check and see how long I have to decide to enter her. Sparkle was amazing. She had very attentive heeling and did the stand for exam without a problem. She didn't even duck her head like she's been doing. Her recalls need some speed and she needs to come in a bit closer on the sit. I was very happy with her sit stay in the line of dogs too. They we're all doing a down and I left her in a sit. She did about a minute and a half before I returned to release her from the line of dogs.

Kamikaze may have grown up, but she didn't outgrow her love for the water!

Nikita is walking well on her leg now. I still see a slight limp sometimes, but not much.


Tonight was Kamikaze's first agility class. I've been working with her on each obstacle individually since I got her. Since I originally was gonna wait until next session to start her, I failed to inform the agility director ahead of time that we wanted to join, so I wasn't sure there would be a spot for us. There was not a spot in Introduction to Agility. There were at least 8 green dogs in there. The teachers said we could skip Intro and go straight in to Beginner and see if we could hang with them. We gave it a whirl. WOW! I'm so impressed with my 5 month old. There were times I was sure someone else had been training her when I wasn't around. It was our first try ever at sequencing. She handled it like a pro getting every sequence right the first try. Even the winged jumps, which she's never seen, and the 180 degree turn to jump number 3 didn't faze her a bit. When I said "JUMP" she actually focused ahead to the jump and ran to it. Most other dogs are still focusing so much on the handler at this point they almost miss the jump. The tire jump is one that's notoriously hard for beginning dogs as they can go around it so easily. But, not Kazee. We sequenced it with a jump in front and when I gave the "RING" command she ran straight at the center and through without a hitch. She's never seen weaves since she's so young, but it'll come. I'm over the moon excited about her enthusiasm and desire for this sport! I hope we can keep her interest.


Yesterday at lunch Sparkle ran an hour old, one turn track in the front yard. Amazingly my tracking dog reappeared. I was impressed with the turn and everything. I was even more surprised at how well she started when we went to the flag and I noticed a pile of bunny poo just two steps off the flag. For those of you that don't know, bunny poo is a prized delicacy in the doggie mind. 

Tonight was her agility class. Once again on the first run I had a nit-wit. She kept running over to visit all the dogs instead of focusing on agility. After that she was fine and we had several very nice sequences. She even ran one at 16" (her USDAA height) without a hitch. He biggest failing once she gets focused is weaves. I haven't really finished teaching them yet, and at the training field they are a novel, unknown.


Got back from Shreveport about 6pm. I ended up skipping the last class on Sunday. It was Master Snooker. That's the main class I went there for. My guys need Super Qs! Well this morning one of the 16" competitors decided to leave because his dog wasn't doing well. That dropped the entry in the mini division in snooker to 4. You have to have 5 for there to be a Super Q. Since none of my guys need a regular Q. I opted for getting home earlier. For the most part I call the show a success. I only ended up with one Q though. Josie got first place in Master Jumpers on Saturday. Jedi ran Steeplechase and made it all the way around. If he'd only have weaved the first try (both times we had to weave) he would've Q'd to. There we only 2 of 5 16" dogs to not E in the first round, so I was thrilled to be one of them. He ran with me mostly the whole weekend and there were many runs we were just one oopsie, frequently a bad handler move, from a Q. Josie ran every run without ever getting stressed and looking around all scared. She wasn't quite running all out, but 3/4 or so most of the time. I even got to incorporate some of the Stuart Mah turning techniques and awed as I saw Josie recognize a turn coming and shorten her stride on that jump. Our wide turns were much improved. We were once again just a dogwalk contact from an Advanced Standard Q. I didn't feel any stress or apprehension running either dog in any of their classes this weekend. It was a miraculously, wonderful and relaxed trial for me. Now, in a couple of weekends I'll be at the AKC show in Brandon with Lego. I'd love to keep that non-stressed feeling going there.

Rosey and her guys shared a hotel room with us. Sniper Q'd in Jumpers and ran a wonderful Pairs run with Jedi which we screwed up. Red was a breath from a Snooker Q and ran the whole weekend without ever freaking out about the whole situation.


Sparkle re-joined agility classes Wednesday. Our first run was not too good. She didn't run off, but looked like she'd never done agility before. The second run was much improved. "OH, this game again!" I took Josie and Kamikaze along too. I did some contacts and weaves with Josie in preparation for this weekend's trial in Shreveport. Kazee played a bit on the teeter. Her recent growth has left her a bit uncertain on the teeter again. She also did a tire, a jump, a straight tunnel, and the full height dogwalk without any trouble.

Tonight was supposed to be the beginning of obedience classes, but hurricane Humberto brought a day full of rain. It turned out it would've been a  nice night for class. The rain stopped about 3 pm. But, the one in charge cancelled classes around a bit early, around 10 AM . Now I'm packing up for this weekend. Josie and Jedi are entered and Sparkle and Kazee are coming along. We're sharing a room with Rosey and her two boys.

Oh, yes, LSU vet school has sent us a bill for more money, a MONTH after surgery. They say you must pay in full to pick up your dog after surgery. We did just that. Now they say we owe for a knee fluid culture. Granted, I remember that being mentioned, but didn't they know they did a culture the day of the surgery and not a month later? AND no one has made any attempt to contact us to give us results of said test, but they are sure to demand payment. Once again, I am sorely disappointed with the veterinary practices there. 


I laid a tracks for Sparkle and Lego to run at lunch. Sparkle's was an hour old. It was a most pathetic display of distractibility. It was across the street in an open lot. She started well, but just before the first turn she sniffed/saw something in the woods at the back of the lot. That was pretty much 'it' for tracking. I helped her down the track some and we did make the glove. HOW AWFUL! Lego's was 3 hours old. I was rather impressed with his ability to track me down a gravel drive instead of just across it. Then he took the turn into the woods like a pro. He sniffed the first article, but didn't stop. It was a pill bottle. Unfortunately Sparkle spotted us in the wooded area behind the fence and started bellowing something awful. Lego was convinced there must be something in the woods that needed to be seen then. I couldn't explain that she was barking at us. It was hard to keep him settled and focused while she barked on and on. He made the first turn in the woods and stopped at a square of leather. He missed turn number two though and paralleled that leg some 15 feet off. He got back on at the last turn and found his glove. Lesson learned! Sparkle must go inside if we're tracking behind the fence line. I laid a U shaped track to give Sparkle another chance. She did better. Still got distracted when too close to the woods though. She does so well out in an open filed, but I guess here at home where she knows the critters are just around the corner she can't focus on anything except finding them. Kamikaze had her conformation class tonight and once again we were the only ones to show up. So, we got another private lesson. Sparkle starts her agility class tomorrow and both her and Kazee start obedience Thursday.


On Saturday I took Kamikaze to the nursing home. She did very well. Her biggest fault is she gets bored fast and wants to move on. She wasn't bothered at all by wheelchairs, machines or rambling old people. Then we made a stop by PetsMart to drop off our used printer cartridges by the rescue group. They mail them in for money. The group there that we got Sparkle from had another adorable litter of beagles. They were soooo cute. Six weeks old or so. I picked a couple up and cuddled them. I had to put them back in the x-pen and make a beeline for the door while the tears welled up. I seem to have a particular soft spot for beagle pups.

As we've been unable to detect any limp over the last couple of days, today Sparkle got her first outdoor time since her sprained wrist. She's been driving me crazy in the house. She thinks the house is boring and wants to go out and chase squirrels and butterflies and such. I still didn't put her out with Kamikaze though. They play very rough. She seemed to do fine outside. No relapse of a limp. And she had so much energy she tried to get anyone and everyone to play chase.


It was one of those days!
It started out OK. I got an email saying there were going to be people out at the agility field tonight and all were invited to come and train. I thought this would be a good opportunity to get Sparkle back into the swing of things since her agility class starts Tuesday. For a little morning fun I laid her a track so it would be ready to run at lunch. I wandered to the door to peek out and check on the guys around 10:30 and Sparkle slowly came around the corner holding one front leg completely off the ground. "OH, MAN!", I thought, "I didn't hear any screaming." I quickly scooped her up and brought her inside. I did a quick exam. I was hoping to find a briar stuck in the foot or maybe some kind of wasp sting. No such luck. The wrist/ankle area was beginning to swell. Next logical thing was to start moving each joint a bit and feel for any break. I couldn't picture it being broken. After twice dealing with broken limbs I know there is a great deal of pain and screaming. I did find, though, that her wrist was very tender and she didn't want it extended fully. She still wasn't audibly upset or snappy, but trying to pull it away and wide eyed. Thankfully I already had a vet appointment for Jedi to get his shots this afternoon. I gave them a ring to see if there was an earlier appointment for her or if I could swap out the dog that was coming. They could get her in just after 1. I laid her blanket across the couch and put her on it. She was happy to lay still there. Since I'm a long time athlete I know ice helps strains so, I got a ice pack to put on her wrist. I was surprised at how well she tolerated it. I wrapped her wrist with some vet wrap to support joint. I didn't do a great job because I knew the vet would have to rip it off to examine her.

I figured I'd just let Lego run Sparkles track. He's been dying to track the last few times I've been out with Sparkle. Just before time to run the track I heard Cedar doing the 'ALERT, I See something' bark. I went out and saw a doe standing across the road. "Great now I can finally get a deer picture for the blog", I thought. I hurried back in and got the camera. I got back out just in time to see a deer butt disappearing in the woods. "OH well". Then I realize I have just cross tracked my own track twice in my attempt to get a picture. "DANG!" I just ruined that training session. 

The good news: Nikita got to go outside for most of the day today for the first time since surgery number two. She was happy to be back among the living. She did great and we're hoping that being outside will encourage her to use the leg more and build her strength back up. The x-rays didn't show any cracks in Sparkle's bones or joint. It appears to be a good sprain. Instructions were to wrap it up with the vet wrap and keep her "rather still" for 5 days. It's a nice perk that I'll be home for the next 4 days to be able to monitor her so she won't be stuck in a crate all day. We'll be missing at least the first agility class of this session too. Maybe I'll take Josie to class #1 instead. I need to work on some stuff with her in the class environment.  Much to Sparkle's dismay I re-wrapped the leg after the vet visit.


I gave Kamikaze her first bath here. Then I introduced her to a hair dryer. It was a human one, but it blows hot air and makes a loud noise so I figured it'd help desensitize here. She did great on both accounts. Although obviously not thrilled with a hair dryer she wasn't completely freaked either. I topped off her afternoon with a grooming on the grooming table and a visit to conformation class. She was the only one there so we got the equivalent of a private lesson.

Kazee after a bath and groom.


Today we decided to go to the Baton Rouge zoo. It seemed like a reasonable way to get some nice outdoor walking time without getting caught in the rain or exerting too much in the heat. We spent a pleasant 3 hours or so animal viewing. There was one giraffe leaning over the gate to socialize with the visitors, and the prairie dog was too cute.


Yesterday Rich and I went to see Underdog. It was much better than I expected.

I met up with Rosey and Cheryl this morning to disseminate learned information from the agility seminar. Rosey was happy to hear what we'd learned about handling. Then we discussed among ourselves different contact training techniques. Kamikaze came along and was introduced to the low height A-frame. She couldn't have cared less about it. No fear or hesitation at all. Sparkle came and ran a short sequence, but she was slow. I am waiting for the light bulb to finish connecting so she'll speed up. She is very accurate on the contact equipment though. Then Rich and I had brunch and made a stop at Walmart. He bought Sparkle a new tractor squeaky toy and some collar bling. He figured since her name is Sparkle she deserved to sparkle.