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2011 training goals

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29th

Last week when I was cleaning teeth Jedi and I had an all out battle. He was growling and snarling (typical), but added in were some cries that sounded like pain. So I gave up on his teeth and called the vet to make an appointment for him to have his teeth cleaned and investigate any issues. I was certain I noticed at least a couple of suspect teeth when I was in his mouth. I dropped him off this morning and got a call about an hour later. There were EIGHT nasty teeth in there. All were at the back of the mouth where you can't see, ever, when they are awake. Poor guy has many gum stitches. None of that kept him from eating his kibble (soaked down) tonight. While I was dropping money at the vet I took in Lego and Cedar to have blood drawn. Lego needed his kidney values rechecked. He came back in the low normal range mostly because the veterinary society has changed their minds a bit on what is normal. (don't ya just love medicine!) Cedar's eating has been a bit off, even for her and her coat is bristly. It's been two years since we did any senior work up on her. The vet sent the blood out to a lab so we could get a broader results range and maybe a better idea if anything is going on with her. That means we are waiting on results for a bit on her.

Sprigs, Xanadu, Spirit and Kamikaze headed out to obedience tonight. I left Twinkle home this time. Rich said she scratched on the door and whined after I left. Guess she likes going even if it makes her sick. Xanadu struggled a bit on articles this time, but her signals and moving stand were good. Kamikaze is still not confident on the metal article (or she doesn't want to pick up). I worked some on not creeping forward on the drop. I forgot Spirit's dumbbell, but we really just did Rally stuff since she's entered in a week in Rally. Sprigs should be a shoo-in for the CGC now and the test is still a month away. She's got her stay down and she's walking past food on the ground well.

I got entries mailed for the beginning of November to a tracking test (for Spirit). I hope she gets in! Also got my entries for Sprigs at the earthdog match mailed. Looking forward to slowly returning to the dog world. My knee is doing good. I am wearing my brace for all dog things and any outing to unknown surfaces. Got my extension nearly fully back and most of the flexion is there (125 degrees). I tried jogging on the treadmill with my brace. I can't do even a slow jog just yet without supporting (lifting) some of my weight off the leg. The muscles just aren't' there yet.

26th

Sprigs got two weave pole training sessions today. I have added the fifth and sixth poles to her training now and she's catching on to heading to them at the end of the four. Her speed is improving too as she isn't having to test what the 'right' decision is so much. Twinkle ran over during training and wanted her turn. I think I see a small glimmer of light on the two poles with her now. Every so often I saw her actually think about how she could earn the treat rather then bouncing at it and charging it.

This evening I laid a regulation or almost regulation track for Spirit. I wore my knee brace, as I always do now when I'm out doing things with the dogs. Unfortunately it's been a few weeks since the empty lot has been whacked down. I found myself in grass up to my hips a few times. After 30 minutes of age, Spirit and I hiked out into the bush. She had to leap through parts of the track. It was tiring for both of us. She thought about quitting a couple of times, but I got her to go on. She walked right up on the glove too. I had my first scare with the knee out there. I stepped in hole with the bad leg. That knee brace is worth its weight in GOLD. The brace stopped all side to side motion and held my leg stable while I grappled with solid ground with my other leg. I had no twinge, no residual from the hole. That's why surgeons should give us active, hard to hold down, ignore orders type people a brace. (mine did NOT.. I got it myself) It's not about wearing if forever after the leg heals. It's about keeping from hurting it again before the healing is complete.

25th

Since I am unable to attend agility trials, I spent a couple of hours at a public education event in Zachary yesterday. It was at their new dog park and LCCOC had a booth. My knee brace, Kamikaze, Xanadu and Sprigs went along. Kazee and Xan were able to demo some agility. Sprigs did a little Rally. Xanadu was not really into showing off though. Silly little princess pooch just wanted to look cute and get treats from everyone. She did show off her weave pole skills a couple of times. Kazee was wonderful at showing weaves and such.  All my guys were wonderful ambassadors for their breeds as well as for well trained dogs. Kazee and Xan were walked around by kids some and did just great. I was proud of my guys at the event. They never reacted to strange dogs or people, only approached others when invited and were the picture of good manners. After the event in Zachary Rich and I went to see Dolphin Tale at the theater. It was a very good family movie!

Today I got in some weave pole training with Sprigs. I think I can say with reasonable certainty now that Sprigs can do 4 weaves in a straight line with 90% accuracy. I can start adding two more poles to her learning curve now!

22nd

I took Spirit, Xan, Kamikaze, Sprigs and Twinkle out to obedience. Xan and Kazee practiced Utitliy. Both did great on signals and articles. I think it's only the second or third time Xan has done articles in a place other than my house somewhere. She did the whole pile and did it well. Twink got a short attention session. Poor girlie still throws up in her crate on the way there even if it's been hours since I gave her anything. It doesn't prevent her from wanting to go though. It's so exciting to see her get all lit up at the idea of going in the car somewhere. Spirit did some Advanced Rally moves. Sprigs went to CGC class. I was astonished to find that she now has the required 20 foot stay to pass the test with very little work on my part. As a matter of fact, NO work on my part over the last week. She just seems to soak things up. She is such a fun little girl. I think she should pass CGC. The only concern is whining on the supervised separation.

19th

I finally felt good enough to go out and start Sprigs and Twinkle on tracking yesterday and the weather wasn't dying hot. Sprigs got a turn first. Believe it or not, even with her tied to the truck watching me shake a bag of treats and set them down as I walked, the hardest part of her first tracking experience was getting her nose on the ground. Then after each find of a treat she'd look up at the sky again. Did three little straight lines. She improved each time. Twinkle I knew wouldn't have a problem getting her nose on the ground. It's getting hers off the ground that's a pain. The problem was getting her to scent what I wanted her to. Even when I got her going down the short line with treats each time she found a treat it was like she was surprised to find it. Like it shot out of the ground, not like she was hunting for it.

Today I was feeling pretty good and decided to take Kamikaze over to my agility field. I still couldn't jog, much less run with her, but she needed to see equipment. The ground there isn't level either. The mosquitoes were AWFUL over there in the woods. I could hear them like a swarm around my head. I got Kamikaze going at a distance. As I walked, she trotted a decent speed. She did nice contacts and weaves at a distance too. Of course the one thing I'd really like to work on for Invitationals is her driving more and coasting less. Can't do that if I can't move. I'd like her to take off the start line like a shot even if I'm standing still. Still, she handled well at a distance. I was feeling good still, so I took Sprigs over to the agility field. Her favorite is still the dogwalk. She races across it. She did teeter well the first try, but she need reminders on Aframe. Then we worked jumps and tire. She did jumps well, needed help getting the tire. Ok, so if I can teach her to weave by the end of March and work on jump work she should be good to run when she's 15 months old.

Spirit had a three turn, 30 minute old track for practice today. She certainly knew what the game was, but her turns were atrocious! She needs turn work before November. Cheryl and I are hoping to hit Houston, TX in early November for a test. Sprigs also did two more short straight lines. This time she seemed to know what to do and sniffed her way to the treat filled glove collecting  her treats along the way. I think I see a TD in her future.

My knee if finally shrunk up enough to get my brace on. It's a snug fit over the swollen areas. Now, had I been a good patient I would have tried it on BEFORE and DURING my agility stuff this afternoon. But, alas, it didn't occur to me to put it on until just before bed. I wandered around the house in it for about an hour. I LOVE how secure I feel actually using my knee when it's on. It does the ACL job of supporting the forward slide of the lower leg bones when you're in motion. I actually jogged around the living room with it on. OK, so there was a noticeable limp, but I was moving faster than a walk. After I took it off my leg felt great and I could walk without a limp and everything. I'm sure it would be bad to wear it all the time as it would keep your ACL from re-learning its job, but from now on for the rest of the year (at least) I can wear it to do agility practice.

15th

I have Sprigs in the CGC class for the next 4 weeks or so. Our club always offers the CGC test in the fall and a 'how to pass' class before hand. Tonight was her second night out at class. She is AWESOME. All I need to do in the next month is train a 20 foot stay (she has a f-8 foot one now) and work on supervised separation (she whines a bit). Spirit, Twinkle and Kamikaze came along for some before class practice. Kazee did signals a bit distracted-like, but nailed articles. Twinkle knows all the exercises for Rally Novice now, but her attention span is about 15-20 seconds. She'll heel along, sit, down. Heel along and then dash in a random direction. I was most proud of Spirit tonight! She has just started retrieving the dumbbell here at home. I took it along and she did her retrieve out at class. Then, with no prior retrieve on high training, she did that exercise with no problem. She even did the broad jump well the first try at an obedience style jump. I even started a little Drop on Recall training with her. I think she actually has a CDX hidden in her somewhere. If you'd ask me if I thought that a month ago I'd have said, "Not likely".

I have sent in entries for my 'return' show. It's just Spirit and Sprigs doing Rally in October. I figured I could do a minute in the ring a couple of times. I have also received a confirmation from AKC that they have Kamikaze's entries for the invitational! 

11th

My father turned 70 today! There was a big party for him put on by the office. I told Mom two months ago I didn't see a way I'd be able to make it there 4 weeks after surgery. I decided last week I was good enough for a 5 hour drive! I didn't tell them though. I showed up at their house Saturday evening asking for a room for the night. My brother had also made the trip to Memphis for the occasion. So, we had the whole family at Mom's a Dad's for a day. They were headed to a play at the local theater, and with an hour's notice they were able to get me a ticket in a seat behind the three of them. I went to church this morning and saw old friends. Out to eat for lunch and then the party for Dad and I was one my way back home. I saw 5 first cousins (Dad's sister's kids) and a cousin once removed (granddad's brother's kid) that all made the party. Most of the people I knew there were over 50, the young ones I'd never seen. Guess I really have been gone from Memphis almost 20 years now! It was a quick trip and a tiring one, but how many times is there a party for a 70th birthday? My knee held up pretty well with only some stiffness from sitting too much.

7th

I went out in the yard today to check on how the tadpoles faired through the storm. The kiddie pools flooded from all the rain. It seems that I lost all the smaller tadpoles. Guess they couldn't fight the overflowing current as well as the larger ones. I seem to be left with three tadpoles and one almost frog! I got a picture of the maturing tadpole. He has both sets of legs and is losing his tail. He is also able to climb the walls of the kiddie pool with his new feet. Guess he's gonna be a tree frog.

4th

Well, Tropical Storm Lee has dawdled around and over us for like three days now. It's not awful here, but it's rain followed by sprinkles followed by downpours. There is a bit of wind as well. It's just a yucky holiday weekend. The good news is the temperatures are supposed to drop significantly for at least a week when Lee leaves us. It was unfortunate that the sideways winds blew some rain into cracks in Rich's office walls. His PT department got half of the carpet soaked and the front desk did too. After getting alerted to it, we were able to fend off the problem spots with some duct tape and plastic on Saturday and so far have kept any new event from happening. 

Other than checking on the office, we took advantage of tax free weekend on hunting/camping gear at Bass Pro. Then the rest of the weekend was spent kinda like this.

2nd

I felt good enough and stable enough today to do some 2X2 weave pole training. Sprigs remembered well what the trick was for getting the treats. If I were well I'd say she'd be weaving 12 poles in 6-8 weeks, but since I'm not it will take much longer than it should. Twinkle is still a bit thick headed about the whole thing. She seems to understand better what I want if she is doing an 'onside' entrance. She'll go away from the treats to get them, but doesn't understand going away from them first. One day maybe she'll get it. Spirit took a bit to catch on too. On other fronts Twinkle is doing better understanding the expected behaviors at our house. Her one big downfall is coming back inside when called. She's getting better, but if she's busy doing beagle things you can forget it.

Guess what came in the mail today! GUESS, GUESS!! Kamikaze's  invitation to Orlando and the AKC agility invitationals! Based on how well I am getting better on the knee, I am signing up to go. It may be a once in a lifetime chance. That's what the super knee brace is for!