Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I have Doggie Tourette's syndrome

Tourette's syndrome: an inherited neuropsychiatric disorder with onset in childhood, characterized by the presence of multiple physical (motor) tics and at least one vocal (phonic) tic; these tics characteristically wax and wane.

Doggie Tourette's syndrome, aka hiccups (aka hiccough): the spasmodic contraction of the diaphragm that repeats several times per minute.

In general I think I am a pretty positive trainer. My corrections for my dogs are mostly verbal markers. I admit I have used other, more physical, methods in my past but for me and my dogs the verbal markers seem to be most effective.

My negative verbal marker for Icon was initially a gasp. Like, " Icon! I can't believe you did that!" (it has since evolved to more of a "HEY!" comment.) It worked brilliantly for the most part in general usage (when he was in full drive mode, the breath intake of course didn't phase him, which probably led to the "HEY!").

But this has come back to haunt me. I don't get hiccups very often, maybe once ever 3 months or so. But now whenever I DO get hiccups it totally shuts Icon down and freaks him out.

I am quite sure that he associates this "spasmodic contraction of the diaphragm" or "sharp intake of breath" with my original negative marker. The poor thing probably imagines me screaming, at regular intervals, for no apparent reason, "YOU MOTHER F#*(er stupid piece of SH!T A$$h0ie DOG!"

Poor guy.

So. I guess the moral of this story is be careful what you choose for a verbal marker. It may come back to haunt you.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I thought by the time Rampage was nearly 10 months the earmergencies would be over! But we had another one today when we were swimming at Redwood Shores. Rampage swam and swam and swam and swam and swam (and swam) and suddenly he dove for the ball, but when he came up his right ear was down! I knew that it would just pop up in a minute. But he kept swimming and the right ear remained down... Once he came out of the water and shook himself out the ear came back up. But it gave me a bit of a scare!

See? Look at my ears! It's all good.

And even better, my friend Kahve came to play with me!

(he was a bit annoying at times)

He even annoyed Foster

But APOLLO seemed to think it was charming how little Kahve tried to copy him... (boxers...sheesh)

But I guess he had some cute moments too

Although if you ask me, he played the 'cuteness' card a bit too strong

More contacts

I haven't done any running contact work with either Apollo or Rampage since our "Field Trip" back on the 6th of August. It's funny how I can obsess over something for a long time and then suddenly just drop it like it's hot. There was a week after our last trial where I didn't do ANYTHING in my back yard because of the Evil Sheltie. But thankfully he is long gone and my backyard is now my own again. Instead of running contacts I've been doing more work with Rampage on his 2o/2o on the travel plank. I was finally happy enough with is nose touch on the ground that I have combined the two. I'm really happy with how he's doing on that, but I need more work on sending him ahead, as his butt tends to come off the board when I do that. But that's ok, I find it really fun to do the travel plank with my dogs! I'm not sure why, but I do :)

On Thursday morning I was stopped by animal control at the park where I've been going to run the dogs. I was given a warning that I was violating leash laws :(. So I can't go back there. My other 'usual' park is still covered in burrs and foxtails and the ground is so hard it tears up Icon's pads like tissue paper, so I won't be able to go back there until it starts raining again in November or so. I'm not entirely sure what I'll do until then, but on Friday I decided to take Apollo and Rampage to Swiss park to practice their running dogwalks! Foster and Icon stayed home, but got to go swimming for 20 minutes when we returned (I was really late for work on Friday...)

I was really happy with how Rampage did. His 2nd repetition was a bit leapy, but otherwise he did a really nice job of running through.

Oh, and check out my snazzy new shoes. At practice Karen and Jen were talking about wearing red shoes at worlds to complete their 'red, white and blue' outfit, so I decided to buy a pair of red Asics. ;)

082109 - Rammy running dw from Agility Dogs on Vimeo.

But Apollo... OY! He just seemed confused :(. His first rep was nice and then he started leaping and then stopping and then... well I think the moral of this story is that I can't just not practice with him for 2 weeks and expect him to remember to RUN after spending 6 or so years of his life teaching him to STOP. Poor Polly. Time to start obsessing over it again with him! USDAA SW Regionals is coming up and I would really like to get a GP bye with him! But we don't have a voucher for a free pass to Rd 2 so that's a lot of contacts we need to be able to get... We'll see how it goes.

082109 - Polly running dogwalk from Agility Dogs on Vimeo.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

AKC/USA WT Practice #2

We had our 2nd and final AKC/USA WT Practice last weekend before leaving for Austria. The whole team looks awesome! I think Team USA will do some great things this year.

The goal of the weekend was to run courses right the first time. Everyone on the team was significantly improved from the first practice in Wisconsin and team practice flowed very smoothly. Well, except for the small dog team who had to have their own special walkthroughs and coaching sessions with the team captain. Those small dog people are SO high maintenance! :)

Overall I was very happy with Icon's turns, weave entries (we had some issues with those at the first practice) and he didn't drop any bars the entire weekend. I don't think there is any specific thing I came away from the practice thinking I need to work on (with one exception, which I will mention later). Although there are some handling maneuvers that I've decided to avoid at worlds at any cost, namely serping a jump off of a contact. We are way better off with a double front instead of a serp. And rear crossing in general, but anyone who knows me would assume that anyway.

On Friday we met at Power Paws to practice. Icon did awesome on Friday and got through the course without faults each time, however it wasn't always pretty! But I guess you don't get style points at worlds so it's all good. I tried re-running a course with a rear cross and he went o/c, which just confirms my knowledge that I need to avoid rear crosses at all costs (especially when it's a sharp turn and there is an obstacle directly ahead and his toy is on the ground :).

AKC/USA WT Practice 2 - Friday from Agility Dogs on Vimeo.

On Saturday we moved to an indoor soccer arena about 30 minutes from Power Paws. It was a nice place and the surface was great, but it was SO HOT inside. It would have been much cooler to stay at PP with a bit of a breeze. It was pretty fun to actually have an audience of random people watching the practice, though.

Icon did really well again, but we didn't get through everything the first time. The first course I lost him at the last obstacle. But that run was pretty bad from the start where it was call-off after call-off after call-off. After the run Kathie said, "I guess Icon only allows you TWO call-offs per run". She was right because the last one sure didn't work!

I didn't get it on video, but the last course of the day on Saturday I decided to run it one more time. He did great on it until I got to the bounce jumps. I said, "easy" to collect him up and he refused the first one. Nancy and I tried a couple times to get him to do them, but he wouldn't. He was showing me his teeth when I asked him to take the jump, which is Icon's way of saying, 'I don't want to!'. I decided to give it a break and not force the issue. It was the end of two very long days and bounce jumps are physically hard on the dogs. Icon also tends to get 'weird' like this in general when he doesn't get his beauty sleep. I'm not very worried about it, but next time I do course work with him, I'll throw in some bounce jumps to give him a positive experience with it. But they didn't have any bounce jumps at worlds last year and now I'm hoping they don't again this year!! :)

AKC/USA WT Practice 2 - Saturday from Agility Dogs on Vimeo.

All weekend people on the team were making fun of me because I wear really short shorts. It kind of confused me because I don't! They're just normal shorts from nike or adidas that other people wear. It's not MY fault that I have long legs! So to give them some perspective I wore my shortest shorts on Sunday, which are actually a skort. I expected extra special comments but didn't get any. I guess I showed them! But they got back at me... The shorts chosen for the team uniform come almost to my knees! They're essentially capris on the other women on the team. Odd choice...

AKC/USA WT Practice 2 - Sunday from Agility Dogs on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

OMG, I want!!

I want this puppy! He is the most adorable thing in the world!!!

He's even been professionally photographed!

Oh...Wait... That's my own Rampage when he was 8 weeks old!

WHY, oh WHY did I not appreciate his ridiculous cuteness when I had it????

Now I'm stuck with this hideous beast :)

(yeah, I know it's a repeat but I've been busy! I'll get more pics soon...)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Happy birthday Foster!

Foster turns 8 years old today!

In actual fact, he probably turned 8 closer to the beginning of July. But for some reason his birthday got messed up on veterinary records so when I ILP'd him AKC added Aug 12th for his birthday. So I figured I might as well just make him a month younger and have his birthday August 12th :).

He was a pretty cute puppy

And did a wonderful job raising 3 other puppies

And he really is quite handsome

And he has one of the most beautiful trots I've ever seen (sorry, couldn't find a photo :( )

BUT, he's not the most graceful dog in the world...

But he's really fast when there are no agility obstacles in the way!

You're getting a steak for dinner tonight, Foster! And of course that means so am I :)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Polly has running contacts!

I was very happy with Apollo's running contacts this weekend! There's some more work to do because he's leaping a bit from the end of the dogwalk and he's not as far down into the yellow as I would like on the a-frame. But overall he did very well and I'm sure if I keep up the practice he'll only get better. He didn't Q on Saturday due to a bar in each course but he got a QQ on Sunday.

If I ever got another boxer there is no doubt that I would do running contacts with him from the beginning (hint, hint Kay).

Countywide DTC - Apollo Sat Std from Agility Dogs on Vimeo.

Countywide DTC - Apollo Sun Std from Agility Dogs on Vimeo.

Icon also had a good weekend, going 4/4. I was very happy with his JWW run on Sunday. He didn't even look a the tunnel after the triple (which many dogs took) and really read my deceleration on the turn to the weaves. Most dogs overshot the weaves and had to come back in to them.

Countywide DTC - Icon Sun JWW from Agility Dogs on Vimeo.

And here is my run with Killy. I ran her in JWW on Sat and Sun. I don't have the Saturday run on tape, but it was a very amusing disaster :). I thought we did pretty well on Sunday (aside from taking that aforementioned off-course tunnel after the triple).

Countywide DTC - Killy Sun JWW from Agility Dogs on Vimeo.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Only 5 more days until I get my yard back

The old couple who live behind me watch their daughter's dogs for 3 weeks every summer. The first few years I lived there it was only this big, sweet, fat golden mix who would occasionally whine at the fence when I was outside to ask for some attention. But in the last 2 years they added a sheltie into their family.

This Sheltie is the most aggressive fence fighter I have ever seen in my live. I mean, when the people next door to me kept a pitbull bitch and her puppies for 8 weeks in their back yard it wasn't even this bad (but that was still pretty bad... the bitch was very protective of her puppies).

But this dog... oh my. The first 2 weeks she was here I was determined to ignore her barking and lunging at the fence. I'm so amazed at how good my dogs are when he does it. They will rush to the fence at the first outburst, but I just have to call them back and they ignore the beast from then on even though he continues to bark, rush and bite at the fence. It's a wooden privacy fence so aside from a few little knots and holes you really can't see through to the other side.

But I let the dogs out to the backyard on Friday after work before leaving for the trial and I noticed that a board of the fence was crooked. The Sheltie broke the board totally off of the fence! I'm sure he could get through the space left too. I stood up on the fence and looked to the other side... all along the fence the Sheltie had torn huge chunks of wood out fence boards and shredded the fence posts. I was very shocked! His mouth must be full of slivers. At least I can hope.

I stood there looking over the fence long enough that the old man came out of the house with his walker to find out what I was doing. He was stone deaf and wouldn't move more than a pace away from his door so we spent about 30 minutes in a conversation with me SCREAMING at the top of my lungs (not because I was pissed - which I was, but because he couldn't hear a word I was saying) and him saying, "WHAT? HUH? WHAT??"

But essentially during that long, inefficient conversation I found out that the dogs are going back next Saturday and I told him he needs to keep his stupid sheltie (I didn't say that exactly, but I probably could have since he couldn't hear me anyway) inside or supervised in the evenings because my dogs will be outside with me. I have no clue if he really understood what I was saying, but nodded and agreed.

So I'll try to fix my fence tonight and see if he keeps the stupid dog inside when I'm home. But if that sheltie gets into my yard it won't be pretty. My dogs are too nice to do anything to it, but I'm sure not.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Field Trip (the graphic novel)

I thought I'd take some photos of Rampage after we practiced. I got a couple of him, but then things got a bit crazy.

Rampage was happy to look pretty for the camera. At first....

He even showed off his artfully tousled hair that male celebrities spend thousands of dollars on hair products to replicate. Rampage's is all natural though. He only adds the occasional cat puke and goose poop to enhance his shine and volume.

But then Apollo grabbed the toy and started teasing him. Rampage wasn't about to put up with that! Look at Apollo dangling the toy right in front of him, only to snatch it away before he could grab it! Poor puppy.

But Rampage is younger and faster than Apollo

And he got that toy back right quick.

However, he made a fatal mistake...

"I'm safe in the tunnel!" Rampage thinks to himself.

"Or AM I???"

"EEK!" Rampage screams. "I guess not!"

(Apollo laughs manically)

Field Trip!

There is a relatively new agility field about 5 minutes from my house. It's been there for maybe a year now and I've always thought about renting it, but never got around to inquiring the owner about it (although I do know her pretty well!). I finally got around to asking her and decided to go with a monthly membership so I can go anytime. Because I go early it's important to keep the noise down so I will only take 2 dogs at a time (probably not Icon and Rampage together for a loooooooong time).

Since Icon has a big practice this afternoon, I took Apollo and Rampage for our first trip to Swiss Park this morning. Apollo isn't in a class anymore, so all of our running contact training occurs in my back yard on the plank. With a trial coming up this weekend I thought it would be good to get him on real equipment and try to get some sequencing in. Putting him on an A-frame would probably help too!

I started both dogs on just the plank set on a 16" table. It's amazing how easy it is to go lower! Both dogs found it ridiculously easy. When I moved it up Apollo went back to his trotting dogwalk performance. Hopefully that will improve as he gets more training on the full dw.

I also tried Rampage on the full sized dogwalk for the first time. I don't think he is ready to move to the full dw in general, but I thought I might as well see what he does with it. The first time he was pretty unsure, the 2nd and 3rd time it looked like he wanted to stop in 2o/2o (maybe the dw reminded him of the travel plan I'm doing foundation work with?). I thought the rest of them looked great though.

And then I put Apollo on the a-frame to see what he would do and he was awesome! He went really deep into the yellow for all repetitions. Will this hold up in competition this weekend? I'm excited to see (but realistic enought to know it probably won't). I haven't done any work on turns at all with him yet, so my fingers are crossed for courses that go straight after all contacts! If not I might make up my own course for him.

The videos... When I say "run!" (my new contact word) I sound like a little yappy dog, especially when I'm working with Rampage. Weird.

080609 - Apollo running dw from Agility Dogs on Vimeo.

080609 - Rammy running dw from Agility Dogs on Vimeo.

080609 - Apollo running a-frame from Agility Dogs on Vimeo.