Friday, December 31, 2010

Just in Time!

We finally got our computers back up and running just in time to post to the blog and say, "Happy New Year!" to all our faithful readers. The pups and I wish you all the best in 2011.

As to our Christmas holiday...you can see from these two photos how opening gifts just wears a body out. Miss Jenny was particularly affected.

Meanwhile Susie and Cosi found a stack of pillows removed from the couch and quickly made the perfect nap spot.

Now that we're back from Grandma's house, we're busy putting the rooms back together. The rennovation is 95% complete, and we will probably spend the New Year's holiday weekend lugging boxes of possessions back upstairs. All the work will be worth it; the rooms are looking awesome.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas from Grandma's House

We made the trip over the river and through the woods and got to Grandma's yesterday. The pups love Grandma's house as cookies abound.

My dogs are crate trained, so whenever they travel or are in a new, strange place, all they need is their crate and they're comfortable. My mom has an older dog, Susie, who was never crate trained. Susie's had some medical issues this year, and the meds she's on make her restless at night. Mom bought a crate and thought Susie could sleep in there at night and wouldn't disturb Mom and Dad who had been popping out of bed every hour on the hour to see if she was OK. Susie would have none of it. No crate for her! (She's a terrier, so willful is her middle name.)

Since the experiment failed, Mom asked if I would take the crate home. I said sure, we could always use a crate. When we arrived last night, my dogs immediately made a bee-line for the huge crate (two of my dogs could fit in it). Not to be left out of Comfort City, Susie has a Temper-Pedic bed, one that any human would die for, where she sleeps at night. Well, this morning we all got our Christmas surprise. Susie is in the crate, and Cosi was on the comfy bed. Go figure. Here's the photographic evidence:

Cosi on Susie's bed.

Susie in the crate.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Topsy Turvey

I haven't decorated for the holidays because our house is topsy turvey. We're rennovating the second floor office, bedroom and bath. That means all the furniture and possessions have to be removed from these rooms. Here's a picture of the dogs in the empty home office:

So, as you can see, we're down to bare walls and under construction! When we get it done, I'll be sure to take pictures of the pups in their new digs.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Treats

Last night was the last agility class before the holiday break. We often exchange simple gifts--I usually take in a bag of treats and a toy for everyone in class--and have a class that's just focused on fun, not necessary sequences or specific training. Coleen had a terrific, three-station setup. First we worked contacts with front crosses after them (just what we need to work on). Number 2 station was a line of straight jumps where we practiced running the line and then practiced front crosses (decelerate, turn, accelerate). Again, just what the doctor ordered.

Station 3 was the most fun. Imagine five tunnels and two tables. You ran one tunnel, then table; then two tunnels, then table; then three tunnels, then table; until you finally got to five tunnels to a table. It was the perfect way to practice get cranked (do a bunch of tunnel work) and then do a control behavior (sit or down on the table). That was the BEST exercise ever. As I watched the dogs on the table, every one of them was wagging the tail. They were having a blast.

My friend Judy left a special Christmas gift on my car seat. When I got home and opened it on the floor with the pups--it was for them, after all--and tried to dig in the bag with Jenny's head in the way, I was stunned. Look at the lovely box of biscuits she got at a local bakery:

We're living large now! They looked so good, I am tempted to taste a few myself! So every night at 8 o'clock the dogs each get a treat from the Aunt Judy box. We'll have a howling good holiday now.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Last Trial of 2010

This weekend Cosi and I traveled to Maryland to attend our last trial of 2010. It's called the "Kitty Litter" trial because of the combination of sand and gravel that they use to build the rings. The footing is awesome...and it does look like kitty litter.

We were close on both days in standard. But, alas, no Q's for us. It was our usual M.O.: Close but no cigar. Jumpers was good on Saturday but awful on Sunday.

Our list of things to work on over the winter include directionals, better front cross timing, and more tricks and games to play ringside.

Merry Christmas to all my agility buddies. See you in 2011.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Family

I was looking through some old photos and found this one. Ah, Summer! My favorite time of year. I saw this picture of Anna, Leah and my dogs from a warm summer afternoon. (Once again, note Jenny's top-notch position.) I love the photo and love the time of year so I though I'd share it on the blog.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Caption Contest

Below is a photo of 6-month-old Mike discovering something interesting about the table obstacle. What caption would you put on this pic? What is Mike thinking? Let's hear your ideas!(By the way, check out the amazing tail Mike has!)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Judges

I saw something at the last trial that was just, flat out terrific. We're often quick to criticize judges--booger of a course, called a contact that we thought the dog had, or is too quick with that refusal fist. However, I saw a judge at the last trial that really made me pause. There were actually two instances. During a dog's jumpers run, the first obstacle was a tunnel. The dog went in. Due to just a wierd coincidence, the dog in the next ring got a MACH. The crowd went nuts and cheered, whisteled and hooted. The dog coming out of the tunnel froze, blasted by this loud crowd noise and was totally confused. The judge came over to the handler and instructed her to play with her dog. She did. When the crowd noise died down, the judge told her to start her run again.

The second instance (the same judge) came in the next day's standard class. The handler and dog team started the run with jump, jump, teeter. A judge's whistle sounded. However, it wasn't the standard course judge. It was from the ring next door. The handler stopped, the dog refused the teeter. The judge saw her confusion and explained the whistle wasn't meant for her. The judge then asked her to go back and start her run again.

How kind, how generous that judge was to give these two teams a "do over" when circumstances really warrented it. I was very impressed by this; it restored my faith in fair play.

Have you ever seen a judge ask a team to start over?

He Ain't Heavy...

he's my Trax! Cosi caught up with his brother, Trax, at the NJ trial this weekend. Here Da Boyz pose in the crating area:

Can you tell which is which? (Answer is below.*)

Cosi and I had a perfect storm of a weekend at NJ. We finally got that elusive third leg in Excellent A Jumpers, so now we're in Excellent B for both standard and jumpers. We qualified in standard both days, for a total of 3 for 4 runs. How sweet. My work these past two weeks have been on focus, getting Cosi to focus on us before the run, not the other dogs in the ring. His head was really in the game this weekend, and the connection with him when running was the best ever. How I love that feeling! He came in 6th in standard both days, only 3 seconds off the winning time.

Trax also had a super weekend, earning his AX title, so now he's in Excellent B for standard. Wahoo! Go RyLadd Shelties!

(*Trax is on the left; Cosi is on the right.)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Meet the Gang

I had a request for more pictures of my dogs, so here goes:
Brisco

Brisco is my champion. We attained our MACH in September 2005. He's now 11 years old and still the sweetest, dearest dog. His temperment has always been one of quiet ease. He loves where he is and is happy to just hang out. His favorite thing in the whole world is to lie in the grass in his yard, watching everything around him, occasionally snoozing in the sun.

Jenny

Jenny is 10 and still rules the roost. She keeps her boys in line. Jenny's comfort comes above all else. Therefore, she always has the best seat on the couch, the best vantage point to bark at the squirrels (from the top of the love seat), and the best lap (Daddy's) after dinner.

Mike

Mike was my second agility sheltie, and he loved the game, but played it differently than Brisco. Where Brisco went all out, Mike was cautious, wanting to get everything right. Mike's sweet nature means that his cuddles are extra special as they are perfectly timed. He knows just when you need that extra attention; he is such a dear. His favorite thing is to see the ducks at the pond when we go on our walks at the local retirement village. I would love to take him herding as his father is a champion herder.

Cosi

Cosi came into my life and changed everything. I was crusing along, thinking I was a good agility handler, knowing a lot about it. Wrong! Cosi challenged me to get fitter, faster, and think in a whole new way about my dog training. He's a joy to be around--a fun dog through and through. I would have quit agility if it weren't for Cosi. He's brought so much joy into my life, and I am forever grateful.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Crazy Weather

Today it is raining...sideways! Whenever my dogs have to brave the elements to potty, I always have treats ready for them when they come in. Cosi loved the wild wind and rain, barking at the sky as he ran to the fence line.

When it's bad weather, what do you do to exercise your dogs? I'm in need of some suggestions. I feel we haven't been exercising as much (walking) as we could because of our weather patterns. What are some alternatives?