Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Like Clockwork

With the totally wild weather this week, we are forced to work indoors. That means some one-jump exercises. So I'm back to basics and doing clockwork exercises with Cosi.

If you think of the jump bar as a horizontal connector between 9 and 3 o'clock on a clock, you set the dog up at 6. The handler now moves around the clock and calls the dog over the jump. It helps with start line stays, with tight(er) turns, and with lead outs.

I usually put four treats in my hand and call Cosi to the right side (e.g., 2, 3, 5 o'clock), then put four treats in my hand again and call Cosi to the left side. You don't have to do a lot of reps; they "get" it. It's a fun mental game for Cosi and well as a way to build that glorious kinetic memory.

You can take the game to the next level by taking the jump bar higher or by setting the dog back farther from the jump so they get some speed into the turn.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Fabulous Weekend!

My good friend, Janice, came for a weekend visit. Plus, Anna came back from college break. So it was truly a girls' weekend complete with shopping, laughing, and dining out. On Sunday I made a recipe I saw on the Food Network. It's eggs and bread and herbs all baked. It was a hit. Here's my cooking masterpiece:

And here's Janice enjoying it!:

For those cooking enthusiasts, here's the link to the recipe on Click here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Most dogs like to work. They're happiest doing a job. I have a sign in my classroom that reads, "The secret to enjoying work is excellence. To do something well is to enjoy it." I think that applies to dogs as well as people.

Here are two of my dogs and their jobs.

Brisco at a herding seminar.

Brisco and I--well, mostly Brisco--tried herding at a seminar one weekend when he was about three. He loved it. I'm the blob in the blue hat, grinning at my dog. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing him work the sheep. I was clueless and the instructor was impressed with "the little guy," as she called him. I wish I had more time and money so he could have continued with this job.

Jenny watches her property.

Jenny is my watchdog. Nothing gets past this dog. She thoroughly enjoys being the alarm and then moving aside to let the boys handle it. One thing I enjoy about Jenny is that she knows how to work and yet be in the most comfortable spot on the porch at the same time.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Winter Blah's

Yesterday's weather was a tease. It was so lovely. Springtime in January. We had 50 degree temps and mostly no wind (our nemesis this winter). We had two wonderfully long walks; I didn't even wear a coat.

Then rain moved in over night and the cold, dreary, winter day today reminds us all that we're in Pennsylvania, not Florida. Thank goodness the agility practice is indoors. Cosi and I had a short workout today followed by a snooze on the couch. What else do you do when watching football? The rain pounding on the roof, the four furry bodies next to me, all warm and cozy. Ahhhh...I love weekends.

The dogs on the couch, waiting for me to have a good snuggle.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Big Boy 4

January 15, 2006

Cosi is 4 years old today. Goodness, how time is flying. He came to live with us in May 2007 and it's been fun ever since. I never had a dog that just loves life like Cosi does. He makes my heart swell.

Some photos of RyLadd Spontaneous Combustion, "Cosworth" and a link to a video:

Cosi as "Chaos" at his breeder's, Mary Galloway, in Virginia. His toy is bigger than he is!

Cosi's been going to agility trials since he was very young. Here Karen Gaydos holds him at a trial in Delaware.

Cosi was socialized with other puppies, and I'm forever grateful to Mary for this. He has a very gentle nature. I like this photo. Perhaps the caption is, "How am I supposed to do the tunnel when there's a pup in there? Oh, well, let's have a snooze instead..."

Now for the video...this is a video from 2009 where we were working on our Open jumpers title. What I like so much about this video is our team work. I got out of place after jump #5, but we got back on track and finished together. I thoroughly enjoy running this dog. He's a joy and a blessing in my life. Click here to watch the video on YouTube.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Shelties Being Shelties

Thanks to Cadie Pruss for the laugh-of-the-day. Click here to view her blog posting showing Shelties being Shelties. LOVED IT! Thanks, Cadie!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Big Boy 11

January 11, 1999

Happy Birthday to Brisco, MACH Bonnie's Brisco. Eleven years ago this Easter we traveled to Virginia to see Sara's Boy Pup. He was 12 weeks old, and just the cutest thing I had ever seen. It was love at first sight; I fell off a cliff in love.

He's been my Sweet Pea ever since. Here are some favorite pictures and a link to a video:

Puppy Brisco and our poodle mix Trudy.

Brisco and I at his "retirement party" at the SSCGB trial. Can you say "food driven dog"?

I got Brisco specifically to play agility. We took to it like ducks to water, thanks to Kathy's great instruction.

This video of us running at a trial in Berks, Pennsylvania, is one of my favorite. Notice the course--there are no crosses. No front crosses, no rear crosses. Just go! This was the first time we showed under Chris Dewey; she quickly became a favorite judge. =:O) Cosi and I will run one of her courses this spring. I can't wait.

Click here to watch the YouTube video of our run in 2005.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Ugly Day

I had an ugly day yesterday. Let's see, I lost my classroom and had to hold class in my cubicle, my computer at work died, my car's warning light came one that says I need to get it to the dealer *immediately* (or what?!), and I got a nasty email from a teacher saying she doesn't like her software application (and just what am I supposed to do about that?!).

I needed *major* Sheltie and Poodle therapy when I got home. The best part of a bad day at work is coming home, dropping your keys and worries and grabbing the leashes. I added an extra loop in the walk last night, going farther just to be sure to cleanse the spirit.

Here's a "therapy session" from last summer. I sit in the middle and get all the sugar.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Favorite Movie

Do you have an all-time favorite movie? One that you’ll watch whenever it comes on TV, even putting up with commercials just to see it? Mine is Mr. Holland’s Opus. Being a teacher, this movie spoke volumes to me the first time I saw it, and its message still comes through years later. I like this movie because not only is it set in the time frame of my youth (‘60’s), the music in it and the minor story line of John Lennon’s death make it personal to me.

When I taught high school (here I usually pull my shirt neckline aside and say, “See the scars?”), it was all about my relationship with my classes, just like Mr. Holland. I firmly believe you can’t teach anything to anyone without first having a relationship with them. I have a magnet on my refrigerator that reads: Never teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig. That says it in a nutshell. No matter what the topic--accounting, shorthand, business law, English--I focused on the “compelling why” of the lesson for my students. Why is this important? Why do I need to know that? What’s in it for me?

After 20 years of teaching high school, I changed jobs, and I’ve been teaching adults for the past 12 years. I have found that there is not much difference between teaching adults and teaching teenagers! Once I answer that compelling why question for the participants in my classes, they’re eager to tear in to the material, glad to finally have answers.

I think I was born to be a teacher; I cannot imagine any other career. And it’s not something I can turn off. If I see someone struggling, I’m compelled to help. I must speak in a class setting, asking or answering questions, helping to clarify that “why?” of the lesson.

When you think of it, agility training--or even foundation or obedience training--is the same thing, isn't it? You’re answering that question for your dog: “Why do I need to sit for my dinner?” There was a comment on the Susan Garrett blog about foundation training that has stuck with me. She says, “Build the value. Test the value.” She meant that our dogs only do the behaviors we ask of them because we’ve built value for that behavior. This clicks in with my teaching “philosophy” (Is there such a thing?). I find myself repeating that catch phrase--build the value, test the value--as I train Cosi.

2010 will be our year in the Excellent level classes. We’ll be building value for 2o2o contacts, quick table downs, and all 12 weave poles.

What's your training focus for 2010?