Friday, June 26, 2009

Happy 7th birthday Polly!!!

Ok, so I'm a week behind on my birthdays. Apollo turned 7 years old on June 19th. Excuse me as I get sappy here, but I am absolutely amazed that Apollo looks as good as he does for 7 years old. I mean, to be a boxer still doing agility at 7 years old and to be the #1 boxer for 2008 (invitationals and year) and currently the #2 boxer for 2009 invitationals with limited AKC showing is pretty damn good! And not to mention, he is the most handsome, lovable, spoiled boy in the world.

I hate to remember it, let alone mention it... but he's a bi-lateral TPLO success. It's amazing how soon I forget the ordeals we went through together when he was 2.5-4 years old. After his first TPLO surgery, which went VERY badly, I was told he would never RUN again let alone do agility agan. So you can imagine how depressed I was when I finally got him back to fighting form, with the indispensable help of our PT Sarah Johnson, and the 2nd knee went out. But thanks to Dr Sams and Sarah, the 2nd TPLO surgery was a breeze (comparing it to the first).

As I say to people who ask me the dreaded question, "who is your favorite dog?"

Icon is my favorite dog but Apollo is my favorite child (sorry Foster and Rammy, I love you too!)

So an homage to the best child I could ever have! Taken at 7 years and 1 week old!

What a mug

Look at those butt muscles!

Although spoiled, Polly is happy to let me share his birthday post with his brothers.

Foster! Polly and Foster are the best of friends. I'm sure it's because they are only a year apart in age.

Icon has many many many talents. Catch an orange plastic football in his mouth isn't one of them.

Ah, and Rammy. He's cute!

He loves his wubba!

He loves his box!

But most importantly, he's cute!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Boy, I was SO impressed with Rampage tonight. Or so I thought...

I trained the dogs tonight in the order of Apollo, Rampage, Icon (yes, Foster got left out of training, but he still got cookies). I generally go in this order because when I train Apollo all the dogs can be outside since they generally stay in their downs nicely. When I train Rampage, all the dogs can go inside just behind the screen door. When I train Icon, Foster and Apollo can stay behind the screen door, but Rammy has to go in a wire crate in the room furthest away with the doors and windows shut.

Rampage has generally been pretty good in his far away crate land, but recently he has caught on to the fact that something FUN is happening when he's in there. And he is not good. He started screaming as soon as I put him in the crate, shut the door and walked away. But it was only a few minutes into working with Icon that Rampage stopped screaming!

I thought to myself, "My little red boy is growing up!"

Well, not so much...

When I was done working with Icon I went back to the room to let Rampage out of his crate. I opened the door to find a smiling red face panting at me. There was a piece of fluff from one of my couch cushions peeking out of the side of his mouth and scattered at his feet. Behind him the crate had moved entirely across the room and the front door to it was magically open.

But he was quiet while I worked with Icon in the back yard. And that's the goal, right?

WT Practice #1

The only thing more fun than spending a weekend training my dogs is spending a weekend training my dogs with some of the best handlers/trainers in the country! It was fun to see some people who were even more obsessive than myself.

Going into the weekend I knew about a quarter of the team pretty well. Obviously I know Ashley and Marcy since they both live about 30 minutes from me. And if course I know Geri because she has Icon's half brother. But the others I only knew by name or not at all. But everyone was friendly and seemed in a good mood MOST of the time. We had some long days, after all :).

It took Icon and I a little while to get used to the surface on Friday. We had quite a few refusals on our wraps, but we got that together by Saturday. We still had our fair share of mistakes though! Marcy video taped most of my practice for me, but they're a bit long and boring to watch unless you're me. I came home from there with a few things to work on, although nothing I didn't know about already. Mainly soft sided weave entries and getting myself spatially oriented. There were a few times that I had to push on his line to get around a jump or other obstacle that was suddenly in my way. That's mostly a problem on Huppe courses. That guy really knows how to place obstacles to inconvenience me.

Our next team practice is the Aug 14th-16th in California, unless the cancel due to lack of $$$. I hope they don't have to though! It'll be at an arena about 30 minutes from my house which is WAY more convenient than flying to Wisconsin.

Icon Friday WT Practice from Agility Dogs on Vimeo.

Icon Saturday WT Practice from Agility Dogs on Vimeo.

Icon Sunday WT Practice from Agility Dogs on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Random stuff

  1. On his first day of trialing after his break Icon got his Mach2! Yay!
  2. Apollo placed 1st in JWW on Sat and 2nd in Std Sun! Yay!
  3. I'm leaving tomorrow for our first World Team practice at Ann Braue's place in WI. Should be SO much fun!
  4. Apollo will be 7 years old on Friday, I won't be home to celebrate with him :(
  5. Rampage's tail has become thick and glorious. It reminds me of a raccoon tail. When he's naughty I now threaten to make a fur coat out of him.
  6. His back hair is starting to look less out of control curly and more rakishly tousled, the rest of his undercoat is starting to grown in from the butt forward. I think he will be hairy.
  7. My department is offering nice packages for voluntary layoffs starting (most likely) July 1st. I put my name in with exciting visions of taking July/Aug/Sept off to prepare for Worlds with Icon.
  8. I was told I can get a package, but I have to stay through December to complete my project. Not ideal, but better than the alternative of staying there. Through the grapevine I've heard the projects I'll be assigned to in 2010 will be very stressful and would probably involve trips to Basel, SW. Most people would think that's awesome, I'm sure, but I have absolutely no desire to travel for work and leave my dogs at home. So my work life would be pretty miserable.
  9. I suspect my work life will also be stressful and miserable until December, but I'll have to find a way to live with that :)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I think I'm done with the running dogwalk experiment. This is about the 3rd time I've told myself this; it's very hard for me to leave something unfinished. But tomorrow Icon is officially done with his break and I'm going to need to work more with him so I won't have time to play with Rampage on running contacts as well as do the other things I need to do with him.

Anyway, despite my complaining about how boring it is to edit videos I have videos of Rampage from yesterday.

Running DW - I raised the plan about 3" in this video. At first the plank is facing towards my fence and he's kind of coming off the side, but then I shifted it to face more forward and he did better. Today I raised it another 3" and went back to the t&t for a reward and he did fine. I really wish I had time to go through the whole process!

Rampage Running DW on 061009 from Agility Dogs on Vimeo.

2o/2o foundation - Worked on the position on the box and nose touches on the box. I think the box helps to make the position clear, but it seems like they're in a really uncomfortable pose. I'll move to the travel plank with him fairly soon. What I was looking for in the posisiton work was for him to keep his feet still, both front and rear. Even when I move behind him I want him to stay parallel to the board and not swing his front feet towards me.

I didn't notice until watching the video, but when I do the target work on the box, I actually force him into the position the first time. Bad me.

Rampage 2o/2o stuff from Agility Dogs on Vimeo.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The puppy made me do it!

I had a list of things I was going to work on with Rampage and Apollo tonight, with the running contacts headlining. But they weren't co-operating. Apollo was having a love affair with his squeaky ball and I was the third wheel. He wasn't even interested in food! Today just wasn't his day to train. Then with Rampage, I did a few minutes of running dogwalk with Rampage and HE was done.

Well after watching and editing his video, it turns out that it was way longer than a few minutes that I worked with him and I drained all of his puppy learning abilities for the evening. Training a running dogwalk sucks the life out of all other training!

So because I had all these training plans and neither Rampage OR Apollo were going to humor me (it's their fault), I ended up training Icon on his travel board. I figure it's not REAL agility. It's only a small plank... And really, it wouldn't be smart to go from not doing agility at all for 3 weeks to right back full agility courses. I can convince myself of anything :). So I did some contact work with him and then some one jump work to work on turns. I started at 16" and worked him up to 24" (Ok, I can't lie... I did 16 and 20" with him yesterday and 20 and 24" today) and then I did some tunnels with him to work on turns out of tunnels.

I video tape most of my training sessions, but oh man, editing them is BORING. I don't think I'm going to be posting them on a very regular basis! I didn't bother editing Icon's jump work or tunnels

Anyway, these are the ones I edited. Don't be too jealous of my cool pink sandals and how fashionable I look wearing them over socks.

Rampage running dogwalk from Agility Dogs on Vimeo.

Icon contacts from Agility Dogs on Vimeo.

dreams and realities

I'm watching the 2008 WC videos and I just saw a run from the large team jumpers course that looks like something out of a nightmare!

You know, the ones where you're dreaming you're at the biggest, most important trial of your life? You arrive to find out that you've missed your walk through, there are no course maps and the numbering on the cones is in Arabic for some reason. You're the first dog on the line and the gate steward, just emerged from the depths of hell complete with horns on his head and flames where his eye sockets should be, is prodding you with his pitchfork and yelling manically for you to get out there NOWNOWNOW! As you stumble on course you can see what the first and last jumps are thanks to the electronic timers, but what's in between??? You make your best guess and take the first jump, then another obstacle, then another. No whistle yet? Keep going. Maybe the tunnel next... then weaves? Still no whistle, must be ok. A few hours and about 300 painfully confusing obstacles later, feeling as though you were lost in a maze, you awake in a cold sweat, your chest constricted with fear.

Everyone has this dream, right????

Anyway, this video was like that. I'm sure he must relive this experience in a nightmare every night. This poor guy starts strong for the lead out, but it quickly goes downhill from there. More than once he just stands there looking lost after a jump, the dog runs around him a few times and then finally, right near the end, the dog puts him out of his misery and just nips behind him to take an off-course jump on the 2nd to last obstacle.

It's painful to watch. I thought maybe he missed his walk through, but then after the dog goes off course, the guy even goes the wrong way to leave the course. He walks halfway across the arena before he notices people trying to indicate that he went the wrong way! Maybe he was having a stroke...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Apollo, Rampage and I went to a trial today. I haven't been taking Apollo to trails while Icon has been on his break because they are usually well over an hour away. But this one was only 20 minutes, so I couldn't resist!!!!

Apollo had a great day, getting a double q. I think he likes not having having Icon around :). We had our first official "no more stopping on contacts" standard run and he got them both (I won't be counting on this though!). In standard he hit the panel jump, but the top bar stayed up and the one below it fell, so the judge didn't call it. I had thought we had NQ'd until a friend ran up to us after the run to show us our scribe sheet :).

Rampage was a good boy, but he's definitely starting to show more interest in what's going on it the ring. I'm still always able to to get his attention and get him on a toy though, which is way better than Icon was at his age.

I think Rampage is officially taller than Icon. I was going to measure him at the trial today, but they didn't have the measuring wicket there. The judge was measuring by eye!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Taking turns

I'm having lots of fun with Rampage lately! I don't know if it's because he's matured a lot in the past few weeks or if it's because I'm spending more focused time with him. Probably both :). Don't get me wrong, he still annoys the crap out of me sometimes and I'm sure he'll continue to do so for a while (he is RED after all) but when we're working together I'm starting to feel like we're a team.

One thing I want to work on with him while Icon is on a break is to have him not be a maniac when I work with Icon. He's a huge brat when I work the other dogs (but especially Icon) and this is an issue because it makes Icon shut down. Even if I crate him inside, out of sight Rampage still throws a hissy-fit. The only way to keep him quiet is to crate him in the car while I work Icon.

I'm taking the easy way out and working on having Rampage quiet while he's not in a crate or x-pen. Funny how it works with border collies, but they always seem to be better behaved when they need to count on their own self control. We've made a lot of progress on this, but I'm not sure we'll make my timeline of him being able to stay while I'm actually doing agility with Icon in 2 weeks.

I'm training this 2 ways with him. One way is 'perimeter' work, where he isn't allowed to leave the table after I put him on. And the second way is teaching him to wait his turn while I play with Icon first and then him.

Here's a little video of Icon and Rampage taking turns tugging with me. Rampage was better than Icon at it, but I give Icon some slack since he's not taking to this whole "break from agility" thing very well. Poor guy.

Taking turns from Agility Dogs on Vimeo.

Contact work is going well with him. I think I'm going to stick with the t&t for the dogwalk. I really need a 12' plank though. I wonder if I can find someone to lend me one...