I am so far behind on blogging and I just realized what there is to blog about. It’s a big overwhelming! Makes sense though – I haven’t had time to blog because I’ve been so insanely busy DOING things.
My last Systems Analysis class was canceled. And the instructor gave us til Monday night to take the final test. So I had til midnight on Sunday to get the homework done and 10pm I think on Monday for the test. I got home from Ohio, dropped the dogs off and went to Perkins to do homework. I got it done before midnight. Not the greatest work but good enough. Then Monday I did the test after work and rocked it – 100%. Then I spent the rest of the night doing the parts that I missed from an early project to resubmit that. I had worked on homework and reading the chapters while in Ohio but I also spent time walking the dogs and watching TV and just vegging – trying to have some balance. All my hard work and late nights paid off though as I got an A in the class!
All of my TV shows have ended for the season. Some for good. House has it’s series finale. As did Desperate Housewives. Sadly, the Finder was canceled.
We went to a burial service for Karl’s Mom the first Saturday in May. It was a nice service. His sister played her violin and the cows ran over to listen. It was amazing. His other sister has done a great job with taking care of the grave site. It looks like they were very loved and that they are missed.
The next day I started my journey to Grove City OH. It was a long drive and it rained most of the way but it wasn’t horrible. I stayed at a Red Roof Inn. My room did not have a fridge and microwave like I thought it would but it was roomy and very quiet. The seminar was with Guy Penning from Belgium and was hosted at Posidog. It was an amazing experience. I had such a great time. It truly was a positive environment from how the dogs were trained to how everyone treated each other. A lot of us were working on similar issues but each was approached differently depending on the dog and how best to communicate to them what we wanted. I realized a lot of things and ways that I went wrong with Letty’s foundation. I didn’t know – I did it the traditional way with lots of drive building which leads to the dog being capped with compulsion vs asking for impulse control from the beginning. So it will be easier with my next dog as I’ll make changes and have better habits and a different way of thinking. Letty will get there but it’s a longer road with more frustration. I learned a lot about working the structure of the exercises on myself or with a friend before the helper is brought into the picture. And probably the biggest take away for me was to reward the dog on/with ME. It’s OK to tug with your dog in the presence of the helper. The sleeve is not the only reward. It’s about keeping the balance of value between the helper and the handler and the dog earning the privilege of getting a bite by performing well for the handler. If Letty is super focused on the helper then I reward with tug to help counter that imbalance. I had the thought last night that some use pinch/ecollars to get handler focus in the presence of the helper whereas I use a tug. We worked 2 sessions a day on obedience in the presence of the helper. We worked on coming in clean on the bark and hold too. It was a lot of frustration and patience and redoing things. We worked Monday and Tuesday. Tuesday we made good progress and then in our next rep in that session she reverted to no impulse control at all. I was tired and frustrated and struggling with my emotions. As I walked the sleeve out to Chris he asked if I was still having fun. That pushed me over the edge as I was not and I said so. I started crying and walked back to Letty and Guy and took her leash and told him I was giving myself a time out. I could feel the anger starting from the frustration and that lead to collar pops. I told her she was a good girl and we went for a walk. I’m sure she was just as frustrated as me and we are in this together. She only knows what I have taught her. Then we had Wednesday off. MUCH needed! After all the driving and the stress it was so nice to have a day off to veg. I did some homework and some catching up on missed TV shows. Took the dogs to the park to do some fun training and to play ball twice. Erin showed me a great park on Monday after the seminar where it was ok for the dogs to be off-leash if there weren’t games going on. I had brought my Chuck-It too. When we went back to it on Thursday we were rested and refreshed and ready to keep working. We made amazing progress over the next 2 days. Guy and Chris could pick up sleeves off the ground and dance around with them and Letty sat next to me and focused on me. Her bark and hold in the blind was pretty good too. Most nights we all went out to dinner together and talked dogs and dog training. True dog training geeks the whole lot of them. We’d get into discussions during the seminar too. Guy had no ego at all. He didn’t care what we video taped or what we did with it. He didn’t care if people offered suggestions or questioned why we did something. Everyone was so amazing about complimenting each other and pointing out the progress that people were making and the good parts of their sessions. Then we would discuss the parts that still needed some work and if what we were doing was working and how to progress it. The seminar started on a Saturday and ran thru the following Sunday with Wednesday off. I went Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Next year I will definitely do all days. We had folks there from out east (NC I think), Canada, California and Texas. I see now why they make the trip. I’m excited for next year and I hope we have a lot of progress to show. On Friday we had 5 Dutch Shepherds there! I had 2 and another woman had 2 and another had 1. Super fun!
Saturday morning I loaded up and drove to Indianapolis to spend the day watching the AWDF Championship and attend the judges dinner. It was fun to watch the competition. I do miss trialing. It reminded me of when I trialed at the HOT Championship. But I was also made grossly aware of how much work we have to do to even trial at a club level. Dinner took forever to make but it was really good. The room was amazing. Huge and so comfy. Sunday morning we drove home. It was a longer drive home (even though it was shorter since I was leaving from Indianapolis) but it was uneventful.
I was very happy with how well Copper handled the trip. I was a bit worried at first but he really started feeling good after the rest day on Wednesday.
Nancy started a new Impulse Control class in May. I was super curious about the class. I watched one day of her previous class and really liked it. Letty and I are focusing on impulse control alot and I thought it would be good to keep that in the forefront of my mind and to get some ideas on how to implement it into daily life but Letty already has a lot of crate game skills so I was torn on taking the class. I asked Nancy if I could audit it and then I could help her out if she needed anything. She suggested that Letty be the demo dog as her dog gets sick of doing IC exercises all the time (she’s teaching a few of these classes) and she’s wise to the routine so never fails. Letty was in season when the classes started so Vada got to do 2 of them and then Letty could go. It’s been fun and I’m impressed at my dogs skill levels. I’m also testing/rewarding crate games more at home and it seems to be carrying over to many things. Nancy is an awesome instructor too. It’s fun to hear her teach skills that match Susan’s.
Spent all weekend one weekend on a software upgrade at work. I was up ALL night Saturday night. But it was successful and I picked up some OT pay.
IPO training has been hit or miss. Letty got worse with her punching when she comes in the blind so we scraped that for now til I can work it more at home on me. 3 sessions ago I had amazing obedience – heeling right around the helper and sending her in for a bite and alternating with tugging with me. For the next session I wanted to continue that but we came out and she was obsessed and could not stop staring at Warren and would not give me the time of day. I fought with her for a bit and then put her up. No sense in getting frustrated and “building crap on crap.” I was not looking forward to training and fighting with her last night but she was amazing. I parked further down the field and did alot of tugging and heeling and tugging on my way on to the field and right up to a few feet from the helper. Her heeling was nice and intense too. Warren suggested an exercise for progression so we’ll try that on Sunday since we now already have a plan! Vada is getting the hang of contact heeling. Mostly just cuz she’s smart. I don’t feel like I’ve trained her on it enough nor figured out how to communicate to her what I want. She did the face attack and the flee attack perfectly last night and her DOH was better.
Memorial weekend I entered an AKC agility trial on Saturday and Monday. Sunday was IPO/mondio training in Woodbury. Saturday both dogs Qd in FAST In the other classes Seven has issues with weaves and Vada had bars. I was super proud of Seven in his FAST run. As we were waiting to go in the ring it started thundering. He was concerned but would tug with me. Then it started pouring – same thing. But then it thundered while it was raining and that was too much for him and he could not tug. He came over and sat on my lap. Michelle was there and had awesome treats and she gave me some. Seven ate them with no problem and we played some chase games to get him in drive. I didn’t do a start line and I didn’t do the weaves in my plan. He ran really well. He got to wear Prozac’s thunder-shirt at home that night and he was totally relaxed in it. So nice to see him get relief from the anxiety. We also picked up a 2nd one for the BCs to share since Sonic and Fringe are reacting now too. Monday our runs went much the same way. I’m not crazy about the footing. And this trial was right before the opening date for the MAC trial in July. After that weekend I decided I did not want to trial there so I did not send out entries in. Monday Narc also got to trial. He was such a good boy! He was following my handling really well. He stepped on the broad jump as he has never seen one before and he did not weave. I think his weaving before was kind of a fluke. I think he gets the idea but he’s so enthusiastic that he doesn’t turn tight enough to bend into the poles. He’s feeling better now so he’s back to having trouble slowing enough to bend. Other than that he did great. No weaving in Jumpers either. Monday we also celebrated that Karl and I have been together as a couple for 8 years!
I’ve been cramming like crazy to get notes off of the videos for all of my online dog training classes. They were supposed to be locked on the 31st. Luckily some are still open so I am still pulling notes and watching videos. I also started a new one for contact training. I love Susan’s stuff. We’ve only done a few exercises so far but it’s basic foundation stuff that we’re rusty on or we’ve just let go. I finally got decent nose touches out of Letty. The immersion in the mental management course has been really paying off I think. I feel like it contributed to my agility success last weekend and my change in attitude and good training session with Letty last night for bitework. It’s all so important. And it seems like we naturally tend to self sabotage!
Last weekend’s agility trial was amazing. I was a little nervous running DAM team on Friday after our crummy weekend at SoccerBlast. Crummy weekends also make me question Vada’s soundness and if she’s sore or if she’s getting too old for 26″. I was so happy to be outside and running in grass though. We weren’t super successful Q wise but we had lots of good runs. In Gamblers I got a good amount of opening points but then I did not understand the gamble well enough so go a 0 on it. My teammates got the simple gamble and only got 1 more point than me though. Good thing we rocked the opening. But still we could have had MORE points. In Jumpers we had 3 bars down and I just didn’t feel like we were in synch. In Standard I wasn’t sure how to do the 2nd jump and decided to do the slice – unlike almost everyone else as it was tight. I’m not sure if I set her up wrong or stepped in with pressure or what but she took the backside of the jump for an E. I pulled her around and she took the jump proper and we smoked the rest of the course. Unfortunately an E for our team. So I had that to make up for – Snooker had some crazy rules. I was one of the first few dogs to run it and the judge got confused and whistled me but then said to keep going. I did. We got thru to the end and got 49 points! My teammates got to the closing but only to 2 I think so I got to finally contribute to the team’s success. Last was team and I thought we all ran it really well. For most of the day we were just above the Q line. We ended up in 7th with 8 teams qualifying. Whew! It was a fun team with no pressure and then we Qd on top of it. Awesome!
Last year I did everything all 3 days. By Sunday morning Vada was lame and I pulled her from all but 1 class since she had run it already. So this year I only entered Standard and Jumpers on Saturday and Sunday and Grand Prix on Saturday. Those are the classes we really need. In Grand Prix it was gorgeous but for one tight spot I flicked my arm and sent her off course. Standard was not pretty. But then she got her first ever Masters Jumpers Q!!!! Sunday she Qd in both classes!!!! So she now has 2 Masters Standard and 2 Masters Jumpers Qs! 1 more Standard for her MAD – so it’s possible she could get it! Hopefully we can continue this trend. The Jumpers course on Sunday was tough – lots of handling.
Letty’s runs were ok. She’s not in drive and she’s just trotting along. I made my goal to push her to get more drive out of her. Saturday she Qd in P1 Standard. Sunday in Standard she ran off the side of the dogwalk and out of the ring into the tent area where Karl was filming from. She came back when I called her and we finished the course. So for Snooker I made the plan all about jumps and tunnels and pushing her. It was better and she Qd. I pushed her again in Jumpers and for the most part I got pretty good drive. The one part she got slow was when I deceled too much on a turn. She Qd in that run too. And I messed up my ankle again on a front cross. Her start line stays were awesome and I was even bending over and saying “ready” to get her to burst out of them.
Karl and Fringe earned their last Starters Standard Q on Saturday and moved up to Advanced for Sunday. Sunday they earned a Pairs Q which completed their AD!
Tuesday we had a private lesson with Terry. The main theme was speed circles. I need to go back to 6 weave poles open too and build more value for them. I’m torn about entering her in the TIM trial at the end of the month but I have time to decide still. I think all of this impulse control work is carrying over to agility.
Quest turned 10 on May 2nd.
Whew – I think I’m caught up for the moment. I have videos from the last 2 agility trials but it’s on my old camera which writes to tape and is not compatible with my laptop so it may be awhile til I get it off of there.