Friday, December 30, 2011

Grooming Tip

A fellow agility competitor recommended using marigold spray on dogs to repel ticks. I found a bottle of EQyss Marigold at the local farm store (this is a product made for horses). I don't know about the repelling tick part, but it is dynamite on Sheltie frizzies. Shelties have these pantaloons in the back. In the dry, cold weather of winter this fur frizzes and gets so much static electricity, they stand out instead of lying flat. I've been using a small spray of the marigold in my hands, rub it between my palms, then work it into the pantaloons then all over the dog. It cures the fly-away fuzz and makes their fur feel so soft. I really like the product, so I thought I would pass the tip along to my fellow Sheltie buddies. :-)

Mystery Solved

When we got home on Wednesday, the side gate to the yard where we hung the Brisco's Yard sign was askew. It was open, bent, as though wind or some other force had slammed it into the garden rocks. After talking to our neighbor, the mystery was solved. A buck--probably scared by hunters--ran into the gate, through the yard, and leaped over the back fence. I'm glad I was not here and that the dogs were not in the yard!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Travels

We got back from our Christmas travels to family. The greatest gift at holidays is having the whole family together. We had an opportunity to go through some boxes of old photographs, pictures from my childhood. What fun! Me at 3 in Florida with my grandparents, my sister and I dressed for Easter with fancy dresses, and Mom and Dad as young parents. I also learned that my ever-so-proper grandmother was not only an actress but even rode a horse! Through all the family pictures were all the dogs. My Mom has had a dog ever since she was five. There are the wire-haired terriers, a cocker spaniel, a Scotty, and the mixed breeds we rescued. Anna, there was even a Boston--named Noodles--who lived next door when we lived in Lancaster!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Merry Christmas


As Cosi waits for Santa Paws to come and bring him toys and treats, we pause to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and all the Best in the New Year.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Kitty Litter Trial

Cosi and I enjoyed our time at the last trial of the year--dubbed the Kitty Litter Trial because of the footing. It's a mixture of gravel and sand, and it looks just like litter. It's excellent footing for the dogs, making for great turns.

Heather and Trax were there. So awesome to see them run. What a great team they are. In standard on Sunday Cosi and Trax dropped the same bar on course. How funny is that? Must be genetic, Heather. It couldn't be our handling. LOL

Cosi and I Q'd in standard on Saturday, our only ribbon for the weekend. I was hoping for that first elusive QQ, but 2011 was not our year for it. We're done trialing now until February. In our down time we will relax, work on foundation pieces, play on the balance ball and peanut, and enjoy the holidays.

Merry Christmas to you, and wishing you all the best in the New Year.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Fitting Tribute

Brisco (1999-2011) loved his yard.  He wanted nothing more than to be in his yard--in any weather--watching all that was going on.  He hated motorcycles.  When one would go by the house, he would run from one side of the yard to the other at top speed.  When he got to the gate where he could see the street, he was so agitated that he would spin in place.  The louder the bike, the more spinning.  It was his "thing," the job he made up for himself.

At the last agility trial Jack found a vendor who made custom signs.  He commissioned a license plate sized sign showing Brisco as a year-old pup, smiling up at the camera, in his yard.  We hung the sign on the gate where Brisco would keep watch, spin when a motorcycle went past, where anyone entering would know...this is Brisco's Yard.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Keystone Trial

We had a superb weekend in NJ. On Thanksgiving day we traveled the two hours to the trial site and set up. It was getting close to lunch time, so we looked around for an open fast-food restaurant. Golden Arches to the rescue. Nothing says "Thanksgiving" like a QP and Diet Coke. ;-)
The hotel was new to us; we had stayed in another location before. This one was closer to the site and was very convenient to restaurants. The dogs gave it a four paws up as it had lots of grassy areas for walks and sniffs and potties. Here is a photo of how Mike relaxes after a tough day on the road.


On Friday we started with standard. He had to be reminded of his contact behavior on the teeter; he tried to go on without doing 2o2o. I made him lie down; this caused him to be too close to the double, and he dropped the bar. Here's the video:


In jumpers on Friday, it was very twisty, turney course with lots of crosses and lead changes. Good. We've been working on our front crosses. I'm trying to not get my arms out so wide. We Q'd and came in third! Here's the video:


On Saturday we started out first with jumpers. Another good course with a tunnel as the first obstacles. Tunnels tend to crank him up, so I had to be on my toes. We had a fabulous run, but alas he dropped the third from last jump. But a great run, fun course, wish we could run it again. Here's the video:

Finally in standard on Saturday we watched the 20" dogs run the course. Not many Q's as the course appeared to have a lot of traps. As I prepared for the course, I kept thinking that I need to be aggressive in my handling. I held him to his contact behavior; again, he released early on the teeter. Guess what we'll be working over the winter!? We Q'd and came in 6th. Here's the video:


I guess you could say we QQ'd--Cosi Style.  We Q'd once in jumpers and once in standard, just not on the same day.  =:O)  It's a step in the right direction.  He was so fun to run this weekend.  What a joy he is.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

As I think about the many blessings in my life, I am most grateful for a husband who lets me follow my passion of dog training and agility. Cosi and I will be running at a dog trial this holiday weekend. Here is a picture of Cosi with his brother, Trax, at the trial last year.

With another year of agility trials almost at an end (we have two trials to go in 2011), I think about our progress this year. I re-worked our contacts to the point that I feel confident of his doing a 2o2o contact on cue. We progressed in FAST to 9 Excellent B Q's. One more and we will have our Master title in FAST. I keep working his foundation games, and they have proved valuable during our ringside warm up. Games of focus help us gel and connect before we go to the line. He still likes to test his start line stay, so there's a point to work during the off time in January. Keep your paws crossed for us this weekend. I hope to have video as I have a videographer this time. =:O)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Good Choices

Yesterday was Thanksgiving in my mind. We had a family gathering. Everyone brought a piece of the meal, and it was a great time. I finally got two mirrored pieces hung in the dining room. These are two pieces Margie and I found about a year ago. I was waiting for the renovation to be complete to get these hung. Well, yesterday was the day. I found two candle holders and some candle rings on sale at Michael's (a craft store). Here is the finished product:

I made good choices, eh?

The dogs were impressive yesterday, too. We have a gate that separates the kitchen from the dining room. The dogs are only allowed in the kitchen. With company coming, I took the gate down so people didn't have to deal with it. Cosi, especially, made good choices. When we were in the dining room hanging the mirrors, he stood at the doorway, asking if he may come in. I gave him his release word, and he came in, laid down near me, and just hung out watching the commotion. I was so pleased that he remembered his criteria. An open door doesn't mean you bolt through it.

Then as guests were milling around getting ready to leave, I asked the dogs to get in their crates. They ran in and stayed there. I looked around after coming back in the house, and there they were, waiting for a cookie. Good dogs. Thank you, Susan Garrett, for good foundation training.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Hero Dogs

Dogs are amazing. They help us in big ways--working side-by-side in very important jobs like herding or guarding or police work--and in small ways--providing comfort, used in therapy, companionship. I watched the American Hero Dog Award show last night. Click here to see a video about the "contestants." I say contestants in quotes because many dogs deserve to be called hero. You don't have to pull Timmy from the well to be a hero.

I enjoyed the show and was glad to see a showcase for these wonderful dogs. The American Kennel Club has been acknowledging outstanding dogs with a similar type of award. They break it down into categories such as companion dog, therapy dog, assistance dog, and police work.

With all the negative news these days, this bright spot of positive energy is welcome and comforting.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Vetrans' Day 11-11-11

Thank you to our vetrans for their sacrifices. Here are the men who served from our family:

My father, Army

Jack's father, Navy

Jack's brother, Navy

Sunday, November 6, 2011

"Normal" Weekend

What is a "normal" weekend? What do regular people do? To us agility people normal is packing up on a Friday evening, getting up at O'dark thirty, and driving to a venue to run and jump and bark. Get home around 5, eat something, go to bed at 7. Get up on Sunday and repeat.

This weekend I experienced a non-agility weekend. On Saturday I "slept in" until 5:30. I cleaned the house, decorated a bit for Christmas with new floral arrangements (a new skill I'm working on), then walked the dogs on the most perfect fall day. I put the dogs back in the van and headed over to the agility training center where we here having a house shower for our friend who lost her house in the flood in September. Good news--they may be able to move back in to their house on Thanksgiving weekend. Their two goldens--Tanner and Gus--were on hand to enjoy the party. It was great to see the support the agility community provided this couple.

Then, just to cap off a perfect Saturday, we got an extra hour sleep! Did you "fall back" with your clocks? Unfortunately, no one reset Cosi's stomach clock, and he pested at 4 a.m. (his 5 a.m.) for his breakfast. *sigh* Guess I sleep in my next life...

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Snow

On Saturday we got 6 inches of snow. Here's a picture of our back yard as the snow begins. This was a dangerous snow as the leaves were still on the trees. The weight of the heavy, wet snow caused many limbs to break off. We had three huge ones fall into the yard. Thankfully they didn't hit anything. Many people in the area lost power--and are still without power. We were fortunate in that we never lost power.

Cosi loves the snow. This snow, however, was odd. As he was running in the yard, clumps of snowy slush would fall from the trees overhead. These blobs would whack him on his body. He'd look up as if to say, "What? I'm running here!"

Friday, October 28, 2011

Happy Halloween

On Saturday we're supposed to get socked by a nor'easter. A storm is moving up the East Coast and will bring 6 inches of snow. I guess the best costume this Halloween will be a snowman.

In our small town Trick or Treat night is one of the few times where you get to see all your neighbors. We all sit on our porches to hand out the candy. Some have elaborate decorations complete with sound tracks. I bring the dogs out onto the porch with me to watch the kids go past. It's a good exercise in "just lie there and watch."

Sunday, October 23, 2011

#9

Cosi and I were at Dauphin this weekend and snagged #9 towards our Master's FAST title. The video is below.

On Saturday the courses--both standard and JWW--were fabulous. Good flow with good challenges in them. We ran great. Sunday's standard class was very tricky, very technical. Dogs were "biting the dust" right and left in the 24's and 20's. As I was getting Cosi ready to run, there was a father with his son sitting ringside. The son--a boy around 12 or 13--reached over to pet Cosi, saying, "Hi, puppy!" I said, "Not now, hon. He's getting ready to go in the ring. He needs to get his game face on." We ran brilliantly. We NAILED that course with only one off-course. All bars stayed up; contacted hit like there was no tomorrow! I was thrilled. As I came to Cosi's treat stash and was rewarding him for his great run, that same boy came over and said to Cosi, "You ran really good!" I grinned from ear to ear. Yes, he did. I have no video as my two buddies were busy with their own courses (it was a 3-ring trial), but I don't need video. I'll remember that run forever.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Balance and Core Work

Last night I changed up the balance and core work for the dogs. I usually work only one piece of equipment at a time. Last nIght I made stepping stones out of the following: a dog bed, a shoe box, the balance disc, the small balance balls (3 of them), then the shoe box lid. It was fun to see the dogs go from stable and flat to something that moves. It was a good shaping session in that they had to think where to place their feet. Cosi enjoyed the challenge. Mike didn't know what to make of the shoe box and avoided it. LOL

Monday, October 17, 2011

J.O.L.T.-ed Again

This past weekend at the York trial, Cosi and I were jolt-ed again. J.O.L.T. stands for just one little thing. Just one dropped bar, just one off course, just one refusal kept us from Q'ing. And here's the part that really gets me. We beat the first place dog every time. We would have had three first place runs. *sigh* My heart was breaking Sunday afternoon, and my spirit was flagging. On the way home from the trial on Sunday afternoon, I detoured and instead of going home I stopped at one of our favorite walking spots. I was still dressed in trial gear and full of muddy footprints on my pants, but who cares? I was so blue and needed to go walking with my dogs. It was a beautiful, breezy day. After 40 minutes of walking, I gave up feeling sad. I wasn't jumping for joy, but resigned to try again next weekend. It's just that we could be so good.

The one judge at the trial had us use a new innovation to exit the ring. In AKC you must enter and leave the ring on leash. If you leave without your dog on leash, you are NQ'd. He had the club build an "air lock" at the exit of the ring. It was fencing with a gate on either end--an entrance and an exit gate. At the end of your run, you went into the air lock box. Your leash was inside the box. You got your dog on leash and exited out the back gate. This was fabulous, and I was so impressed with it that I wrote to AKC agility telling them about it. It kept the ring moving, and you could take a few moments to celebrate with your dog before putting his leash on. I hope it is adopted at more trials.

Oh, and yes, Anna, I had egg sandwiches both days. And they were fabulous!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Still Queen

Miss Jenny--aka Jenny The Jett, Jett-Jett, Baby Girl--went for her checkup today. She got all A's on her report card. She is still Queen of all she surveys. Looking awesome for an 11-year-old. Oops! Did I just tell your age? Sorry, Jett.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Observations From The Trial

Cosi and I are at an AKC trial this weekend.  I have no video since I'm here alone, but I do have some observations to share.  

First, the one judge has everyone talking.  The standard course was flat out ugly.  It was tight and didn't flow at all.  Cosi did well, dropping only one bar and had one off course.  He held his contacts, so that was a plus.  When the results came out, I was not surprised to see NO dogs Q'd in the 16" class.  The big dogs didn't fare well either.  Things that make you go hmmmmm....

I got to see my friend Scott run his small sheltie, Devon, in Excellent A jumpers.   What a GREAT dog he is.  He zoomed through the course with a Q and a first place.  Well done, Miller Lite!

When there was a jump height change, I saw an unusual sight.  The first 12" dog came in the ring.  As the ring crew readied the course, she played warm-up games with her dog.  I was surprised that no one told her to leave.  Hello?  Training in the ring is a huge No-No in AKC.  Working your dog in the ring is getting an unfair advantage.   *sigh*.  Seems like I was the only rule-following fool who noticed.   

I worked as ring crew for the open standard class.  I got to observe the handling up close.  In a word, oy.   All everyone said was here, here, here.  No direction like jump or frame or tunnel.  Just here, here, HERE!   As a result, dogs were all over the place, not running a course but just trying to guess where here is.   I was wondering why our dogs just don't jump up and bite us in the butt.  How's that for "here"?

I had high hopes for a QQ this weekend, but no luck on Saturday. We ran very well in jumpers, just dropped a bar on a tight turn. (Guess who was out of position?). We Q'd in FAST.  

I will meet my good friend Janice for dinner tonight.   We'll celebrate her speedy recovery from a recent hospital stay.  Good friends+Good Dog=Great weekend.   

Monday, October 3, 2011

LKC

Cosi and I were at the Lancaster Kennel Club trial this past weekend. It was cold--and, at times, rainy--so we were both bundled up. His back-on-track coat really helped keep him warm and ready to run. In FAST on the first day we got enough points, but not the send. So no Q there. Then he qualified in Standard, which was HUGE! He had perfect contacts and took 3rd. In jumpers I was hoping for that first, elusive QQ, but it didn't happen. Sunday's FAST had a serpentinie in the bonus. We got it and took 3rd in FAST. In standard we hit all our contacts, but got a refusal at a tunnel. UGH! Next training focus will be on tunnels. In jumpers there was a serpentine and the judge was standing right were I needed to do a FC to make the serpentine. Frustrating. Not such a hot day on Sunday. We're off to Williamsport this coming weekend.

Here is the link to one of his FAST runs. Nice contacts! Good weavers!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Foundation Work Proved

We have painters at the house painting the two porches and some outside trim. They opened the back door to paint the inside trim, and there were the dogs, standing. The painters told Jack they were amazed that the dogs stayed and didn't try to run outside. When Jack told me this, I was so proud. Part of our foundation work is that the dogs wait to be released to go outside. An open door does not mean you bolt. I credit Susan Garrett's crate games with this success. Just this one piece--wait to be released--works so well in every day life, not to mention it keeps your dogs safe. They don't go bolting headlong into the street or after other dogs.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Get Ready to Say "Awww..."

Cadie Pruss (Acadia Shelties) posted this picture on her blog. Sorry to "steal" it, Cadie, but this is the cutest thing I've ever seen. I think the caption should be, "OK, kids, this is how you do the Sheltie Shuffle!"

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Awesome Class

We were really challenged in class last night with twists, turns, 4-jump lead outs, and front crosses all over the place! F. U. N. Cosi and I were really connected, and it felt great. Starting next weekend we will be at trials every weekend in October. I'm eager to get back into the trial scene and keep this connection going.

I also learned at class last night that a fellow agility competitor we all know in class lost her house in the flood. She and her husband and two golden retrievers got out to safety, but 4 feet of water covered her house. We will have a house shower for her next month to help replenish things such as kitchen items, linens, and food lost in the flood. The agility community is a good one, eh?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Da Boyz R Workin' Out

With a cold and rainy day not suitable for man nor beast, Cosi and Mike decided to workout indoors. Here Cosi gets ready to work on the balance ball while Mike queues up. He starts in a sit, then I ask him to sit up (beg) and hold it. He really wobbled when we first started this, but now he's getting really good at holding it. We then progress to working our contact "touch" behavior (back feet on, front feet on ground), and finish with "dancing" where his front feet are on the ball and he pivots around the ball moving only his back feet.

Mike's turn. He's not as advanced as Cosi, but he can't wait to get on the balance ball. His turn consists of sit, down, sit (doggie push ups) while on the balance ball.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

You Know You're a "Dog Person" When...

...you judge a person by how nice their dogs are.

...you use the dog bowls to fill the dishwasher so you can make a "full" load

...as you channel surf the television, you bypass a documentary about people in favor of a Dogs 101 episode on Animal Planet.

...when there is a dog in the movie and he gets hurt/lost as part of the storyline, all you can think is, "But what happened to the dog?"

...you hate when people snore but when your dog does it, it's "cute."

...you know what a GSD is.

...when car shopping, you only consider cars that you can get a crate in.

...every jacket/coat you own has a poop bag in the pocket.

...you don't remember the person's name, but you know their dogs. As in, "you know, what's-her-name...the one with the goldens?"

Can you think of some others?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tricks

Cosi and I continue to work on his tricks. I bought the small balance balls. First, I was thinking they are so portable, easy to take ringside. Second, he's never had to "work" with something small before. He'll really have to think about how to use his feet. So far we've progressed to his placing his foot on the balance ball and dragging to towards him. My goal is for him to place his two front feet on two separate balance balls and stay there. No photos yet. We're a work in progress.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

10 Year Anniversary of 9/11

This was an emotional day for many people. I was watching TV this morning at 8:30 and saw a documentary. It was very well done. It was both movie clips and still photos from people who took images from cell phones or cameras, and you practically re-lived the day. Then I watched a National Geographic Channel special of accounts from survivors. One was a man with a guide dog. To know what they went through...that really got to me.

No matter what the situation--life's trials and tribulations, elations and celebrations--our dogs are there with us. I know that dogs were used to find survivors as well as casualties after the attacks. They were also used as therapy dogs for the many people who needed help as they provided emergency services. Knowing that they played a role in that historic day makes me appreciate the work they do for us every day. Here is an account from someone who helped by making his therapy dog available at ground zero. Click here to read his account.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Flooding

Remember when I said we've had an earthquake then a hurricane and asked what next? Well this week I got my answer. Now we have a flood. It's been raining since Monday and the Susquehanna River has crested at 10 feet over flood stage. We live about a mile from the river.

I was to attend a USDAA trial this weekend, but I still can't get to a main road. I have a 4-day weekend and no trial to go to! What's up with *that*!?

The back yard looked like a lily pond at one point. The doggies and I made it through the worst of it with only a flooded basement. We never lost power or had to evacuate like a lot of people around here. I am grateful for that.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Progress At Last

Cosi and I have been drilling the 2o2o method for contacts for the past month. As I said in another post, he's been seeing 2o2o in his dreams. Any item with a differentiation in height (a curb, a decoractive wall on our walk, steps, etc.) is an opportunity to work his contacts. I don't need the dog walk or A-frame set up to get the idea across: plant your front feet, lower your rear, and bob your head in a touch.

This weekend at the Berks trial I had an opportunity to reinforce that, yes, I am serious about this behavior, and you will do it even at a trial. There are two cues for Cosi. The first is my word "touch" as he approaches the down side of a contact. The second is a physical cue. I put my arms behind my back. He watches me, and I figured I needed a cue to tell him we're not moving. With no arms to guide him to the next obstacle, he is more likely to stay put.

Berks was a three-day trial, and I had in my mind that I was going to use these three standard runs as practice, as money in the bank, towards reinforcing our contacts work. Forget Q's. Forget going fast. I wanted focus, 2o2o contacts, and controled speed. Friday was a nightmare. The beginning of the standard course was tunnel then A-frame. Perfect. A good test of our contact work. He came out of the tunnel, and he was high as a kite. He tried not doing 2o2o, so I had him lie down before going on. My message was, "You *will* stop!" He was frantic and our teamwork just wasn't there.

Saturday was 50 percent better. He tried to bag the first contact, but I waited him out. Bam! He went into the 2o2o position, and I was thrilled. Then he finally did a 2o2o A-frame! I was over the moon.

Sunday's course started with tunnel then dog walk. Good. Another good test of being high from the tunnel then get control on the contact; he nailed it. He did 2o2o for all three contacts and a down on the table. Check out that A-frame! Have you ever seen anything more lovely?!? I messed up with giving him a directional cue of "left" too early on the last sequence on the course. So, like a good dog, he spun, going left. We could have Q'd on the standard course, but, oh, well, next time. I was never more proud of him and our teamwork. Here's the video from Sunday:


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Alpacas

My sister came for a visit. We were supposed to go to the NJ shore, but Hurricane Irene canceled our trip. In hindsight we made the right decision not to go. Instead we made day trips around the area. I knew there was an alpaca farm near here, so we headed to Eastland Alpacas. Jamie is also a knitter, and I enticed her with promises of yarn shopping. Turned out, she was enchanted with the alpacas. Here is a picture of her feeding them.

The owners of Eastland Alpacas really have a first class operation. They want you to interact with the animals, and they share their passion and knowledge of keeping alpaca. My sister got to hold a day-old baby, feed the herd, and learn about their upkeep. She's always wanted a "farmette," so this turned out to be a fun time.

Do shelties herd alpacas?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Braving the Elements

On Tuesday last week we had an earthquake. I was at work, so I didn't know how my dogs experienced the shaking ground. They were fine when I got home.

However, this past weekend, we went through Hurricane Irene together. It hit on Saturday late in the afternoon, and blew through until Sunday afternoon. It was 12 hours of torrential rain, wind, and flooding. My boys handled it very well. They even went out into the teeth of the storm on Sunday morning at 5 a.m. and pottied! What brave shelties. Cosi actually thought it was fun. He leaped out the door, ready to bark at the rain. Miss Jenny the Poodle (who hates to be wet) went from 6 p.m. on Saturday evening until Noon on Sunday with no potty break. She'd poke her nose out the door and said, "No, thanks. I'll wait." And she did. We tried and tried, but she wouldn't go outside.

The NJ shore trip I had planned for the weekend was a bust, but we'll try again next year.

Earthquakes. Hurricanes. What's next?! Wait! Don't answer that. I don't want to know.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Earthquake!

Yesterday I was sitting at my desk working--OK, I was playing on the iPad they gave me--and felt the floor shake. It was as though a train or large truck was rumbling underneath. Then it kept shaking. It lasted for about 10 seconds; it felt like 10 minutes. I yelled out, "Does anyone else feel the floor moving?" My co-workers were coming out of their offices asking the same thing. We quickly exited the building and stood outside, waiting to hear an announcement.

Thank goodness for cell phones with data packages. Someone checked the internet on his phone and discovered there had been an earthquake centered in Virginia. We were feeling the effects.

About 15 minutes later we were given the all clear to return to the building. What an experience.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Distractions

They say that you need to train your dog to ignore distractions: people running past, kids on bikes, squirrels. OK. Got that. Did that. But what about this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pV_swCPKYk8&feature=share

It was amazing that (a) the dog didn't go after the horse, (b) that the horse didn't go after any of the dogs, (c) that no agility equipment was touched! I watched it several times, amazed at the outcome. Do you think it will go viral?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Reflection

I was working with a teacher on a new computer system this week. My job was to show him how to enter grades and get his job done. We got to talking, and he mentioned he was entering his 32nd year of teaching. "When will you retire?" I asked. He said he wouldn't retire because he couldn't answer this question: What would I do?

I've been reflecting on this question all week. Our jobs are our source of identity. Without a job we often feel incomplete and, perhaps, even inadequate. I know. I was part of a very large corporate layoff in the '80's and was horribly lost without having a job to go to every day.

This also got me thinking about agility. Agility would be my answer to the question "What will you do after retirment?" I've been active in the agility scene since 2002. Brisco's first trial was in 2003, and I've been trialing ever since. The fact that amazes me is that even after nine years, this sport challenges me, is changing practically every year with rule updates and new venues, and offers as much or as little activity as I would like to give.

My retirement is years off, and as I think about what life would be like without going to a daily job, I wonder where agility will be at that point. What changes will come about? What new aspects are there to discover? What advances in dog training (the next "it" thing) will occur? Fun to contemplate.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Let Dogs be Dogs

Whenever I can, I love to let Cosi run. When it's a safe environment (i.e., fenced in property), I turn him loose. He absolutely loves it. Coleen had lure coursing today as a fund raiser. Cosi and I showed up, first in line. Here are the pictures I took of him on course.

See that dot on the horizon? Cosi is chasing the plastic bag on the course line.

He's getting closer to the finish line!

Get that bag! Awesome run.






Monday, August 8, 2011

Snookered

I sent in an entry for a local USDAA trial in September. I entered all the regular classes (standard and jumpers) and gamblers (I'm good at distance work). Then I put on my Big Girl pants and entered Snooker. I've only ever done this class in agility class, and it was not a pretty sight. Keep your paws crossed that we don't get snookered.

Cosi's 2o2o work continues. I purchased Sylvia Trkman's DVD on shaping tricks. What fun! I was laughing as I watched this video. Cosi and I have had three sessions so far. It seems he likes to back up as that's the behavior he automatically offers. I want to work on "sit pretty" and covering his muzzle with his paw. A work in progress for sure, but fun stuff. Can't wait to share it with Anna.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

In Your Dreams

At the last trial in Cheswick, Cosi was not performing his contacts well. He's taken to leaping off above the yellow. Not acceptable. So on our summer break (we have no trials in August), he's seeing 2o2o (two paws on, two paws off) everywhere: on the stairs, on the steps leading outside, and on a dog walk plank I put in the yard. I want him thinking 2o2o in his dreams!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Thank You

The outpouring of support, the lovely cards and flowers, the caring and concern shown by the agility community (my classmates and fellow competitors) has been wonderful. Thank you to the many people who took the time to write to me of their memmories of Brisco. I felt it was yet another tribute to this wonderful little dog who brought joy to us all.

Here is a picture at the all Sheltie trial when Brisco got his MACH. Fellow competitors Barb and Scott stop by to sign the bar.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Life Goes On

I find I miss Brisco the most in the mornings. We have our little routine to start the day. The dogs share my breakfast. When I break off that extra piece of fruit then remember he's not there, I smile. I look for him in his favorite spots where he would take naps. Then I remember he's in the best spot in Heaven.

Brisco and I competed in agility when the trials were all outdoors. No matter what the weather--pouring rain, heat, wind--we were there. He actually got blown sideways off a teeter one time! When I got my Lasik surgery done on my eyes, I couldn't wait for the next trial in the rain. I'd be able to see. One time Jack and I were in the van on the way to a trial, and it was pouring buckets of rain. Jack looked over at me and said, "You know this makes you hard core." We laughed. It was true. I had a partner that would go anywhere with me. Brisco was "hard core."

One time in Williamsport, the heat was unbearable. It was 80+ degrees in the morning when we ran jumpers, and I remember thinking we may not run standard. But when I walked the standard course, it was a good one. Brisco and I were among only a few 12" teams left. Others scratched because of the heat. We ran and Q'd then waited for results. Brisco took first place! We usually came in anywhere from 10th to 15th in a trial. A first place ribbon was a HUGE event for us. And that was Brisco--in it all the way. No matter what the issue--courses that ran uphill, wind, rain, heat--he was with me all the way. It was only one of the many reasons I loved him.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

MACH Bonnie's Brisco - January 11, 1999 to July 27, 2011

Brisco had not been well for about two weeks. He was eating only off and on, and I knew something was wrong. Today my suspicions were confirmed. An ultrasound showed an inoperable cancerous tumor on his liver. I was with him at the end, holding him on my lap, telling him how wonderful he truly is. I know he is pain free now and running and jumping and barking in heaven.

Brisco was my first agility dog, and I think they are always so special. I had never participated in sports before, so he lead me into a whole new chapter in my life. Here is our run at Nationals. Listen to the emcee as she reads the information I sent in about us. They asked us on the form, "What is something funny your dog does?" I wrote that Brisco likes to "talk trash" by barking and bouncing on the way to the ring. It was true. He was as mild mannered, as easy going as any Sheltie. But put a leash on him and take him to an agility ring, and he was ready to rumble!

Goodbye, my sweet prince.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Cheswick

Jack and Cosi and I went to Cheswick for a trial this weekend. Cosi did well in FAST and standard on Friday, Q'ing in both. Then we had a fun time watching our friend Scott run his new dog, Devon. Scott and I became friends when Brisco and his sheltie Trev were in the 12" class together. Gotta love a man who loves a sheltie, and Scott is a good man. He loves his dogs, and he runs with the joy of the game. Here is the video of Devon's first Novice jumpers with weaves run. He took first place.

I asked Scott after the run if he still gets nervous before a run. He said yes, and I'm glad to hear that. I do, too! I guess that keeps it all from "getting old." Each run is potential. Here's Cosi's FAST Q from the trial:

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Farewell, Susie


Mom and Dad had to say goodbye to their 10-year-old dog, Susie, on Friday. She is pictured here in her favorite place, with my Mom, on her lap. Susie's heart was stressed due to Cushings disease. She fought a good fight, and lived to give my parents joy for 10 years.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Pet Peeve #2

Or is it Pet Peeve #1?

I cannot stand people who have an out-of-control dog on a flexi leash. I just want to scream, "Get a REAL leash, people!"

*sigh* Thanks. I'm better now.

I just took Mike to the vet to get the rest of his vaccinations when in walks a woman with a 12-week-old lab puppy...on a flexi. Needless to say, the pup was all over the place. Amid, "Oh! Isn't she cute?" and "Look at the pup-py!" I was gagging. Mike was sitting on the bench next to me, and when he looked up at me, I could clearly read the bubble over his head. "Is this thing nuts or what?"

I was tempted to ask the woman her email address and send her the Puppy Peaks webinar links that Susan Garrett has posted. I heard her say, "This is my first puppy."

Live and Learn, sister. Live and Learn.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Carzy Week

It's been one of those weeks where there seems to be something going on every minute! I feel like I've been in constant motion all week.

Monday Mike went to the vet's for his annual checkup. Aced it! He's still my handsome boy, and that's why he's at the top of this blog.

Tuesday I went to the dentist...and I'm still recovering. Such a mental block for me!

Moving on...Wednesday was dog class night (always a highlight for me and Cosi) and the break in the heat and humidity. We took an extra-long walk Wednesday night after class because it was such a beautiful evening.

Thursday we practiced in the yard, and even Brisco did a set of 6 weave poles, proving that even a 12-year-old can "weave it up"! I was working entries with Cosi, moving the jump around the clock on the set of six. Then off for another long walk on a lovely summer evening.

Friday is "date night," so we're going out to dinner with friends who are in town visiting family. That means no time for practice and no walkies for the pups. Bummer. However, Janice will be here on Saturday, which promises that the weekend will be glorious. We two shopping buddies will be hitting the outlets for bargains. Then I'll work with the pups in the evening and go walking as long as this summer weather holds.

What did you do this week?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Berks Video

Here is the video of our standard run on July 1 (Happy Canada Day!). As you can see, his Wahoo! on course had him taking off-course obstacles before the table. However, from the table to the end is glorious! That ending with the tight turns and yet all the bars stayed up. *sigh* I love this dog!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Berks

Cosi and I braved heat (101 degrees!), neighborhood fireworks (idiots with matches), and difficult courses to qualify at the Berks trial this holiday weekend. While smart people were poolside, Cosi and I were in a building with no air conditioning, running and jumping and barking. In the end, we had 4 great runs with two qulifying scores. We Q'd in FAST and in jumpers on Sunday. No video; I was down to bare bones on Sunday and didn't bring the camera. There is no hotter temperature on earth than when it's time to pack up on Sunday, so I try to keep clean up to a minimum.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Holiday Weekend

Cosi and I are off to a three-day agility trial this holiday weekend. We're running FAST--my favorite game--as well as the standard and jumpers classes. Should be fun.

We've been playing Snooker in class the past three weeks. My head and my heart are not in this game, but we give it good try. As to our success in Snooker, let's just say there are no Super Q's for us in the near future! LOL

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Balance Ball Work


A fun activity that I am incorporating into our training routine is using the balance ball. I bought the above Fit Paws "ball" (it's really more like a flat oval) and the dogs love it. I ask Cosi to "spot" which means to put his back two feet on it and the front two feet on the ground (just like at the dog walk). Mike is really getting the knack of getting on and standing up. It's a great confidence builder. Jenny can get on, but not to keen on staying on just yet. More like, "There. I did your stupid thing. Now hand over the treat!" LOL

It's a fun exercise, works their core, and is a nice transition to shaping for other behaviors. Do you use a balance ball?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Just For Anna

Here's a picture just for Anna:

Friday, June 24, 2011

Foundation, Foundation, Foundation

Just like the real estate world has the mantra "location, location, location," I think the dog training world should have the mantra "foundation, foundation, foundation." It's all the work that goes into making a great dog a great dog, not necessarily a great sport dog. I think I'm one of the odd balls that loves foundation work. Most people skip over this to go on to the more exciting things like jump grids and contact work. I am most pleased when someone (a non-agility person) tells me what nice dogs I have. That's the foundation work shining through.

I signed up for another on-line, Susan Garrett course. This time the topic is...have you guessed yet? Foundation! It starts in a week. I'm eager to get started. I love her approach to training through games. I want to teach more balance work and incorporate more trick training into our routine.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Update

Brisco is doing better. He's been settled for two days. He's not 100 percent, but working towards it. UPDATE FROM THURSDAY EVENING: Brisco is perfect. He passed the "good potty" test with flying colors! I've got my boy back.

We got an update on the house rennovation project. Two items we ordered months ago are finally arriving. They will be the final touches; these last two pieces of furniture will complete the living room and dining room. Yea!

Finally, an update on agility. Cosi and I have been trying to master the rule set of Snooker. Anyone have any helpful hints? We're overwhelmed.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Brisco


Brisco's been having some stomach upset this week. We're on "the basics" with lots of water, plain food, and no treats (gasp!). He ate better today and so far (fingers crossed), so good. Tomorrow will be the tell-tale day. With Brisco being 12 and a bit fragile, I'm quick to go into nursing mode when he's off. My number one fear is dehydration (with the vomitting). I'll keep you posted...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Reflections

The sudden and unexpected death of a friend and colleage last week has me quite introspective. What would be my regrets if I died before I had time to...

tell the people I love that I love them

enjoy each day as a gift

be present in the moment and give my attention to those around me

It may sound cliche, but these are my thoughts. So I acted on them. I made some calls to friends, emailed others, to re-connect. As I walk the dogs in the evening, I stop thinking about the day's events and what is troubling me. I look at the sky, the scenery, the dogs and think, "Thank you, God, for this beautiful day and these wonderful dogs." At work I look people in the eye and give them my attention instead of typing while they talk.

Not ground-breaking, earth-shattering stuff, but just a little something in memory of Mary.

Lazy Weekend

What a lovely, lazy weekend. No trial. No house chores. No engagements. Just knitting, snoozing, agility training, and grooming. Ahhhh....

I had a good experience on Sunday. I took the Recallers course from Susan Garrett on-line. GREAT course with such practical application (not just to agility). On Sunday I took Cosi to practice. I left him out of the van and we went to the potty area. The gate to the large, open field where he likes to go for a run was open. He spied it and headed towards it on a trot. I waited. He sped up (like, "Awesome! I'm gonna go for it!"). At the gate I called, "Cosi, come." He turned on a dime and came racing back to me, faster than he had been going to the field. I pulled his #1 favorite toy out of the gear bag, and we had a great game of tug. What a good boy. I'm here to testify that these foundation games Susan Garrett has devised work!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Boyz


The boys all got bathed and combed out tonight. Aren't they the most gorgeous Shelties on the planet?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Williamsport

Cosi and I just got back from a succesful trip to Williamsport. We stayed with my good friend, Janice, and Friday night the thunderstorms would not quit. There was one at 1:30 a.m., 3:30 a.m. and as we were packing up to leave at 5 a.m. It was pouring buckets as we inched our way to the site. Needless to say, we were not a well rested team.

The judge at this trial liked pinwheels and it showed in his course design. All weekend we went round and round. We Q's in jumpers on Saturday and took first place. Sadly I have no video as my friend Rosie (who usually helps me out with that) was only three dogs behind me in the running order. I couldn't ask her to tape as she needed to get her dog ready to run. The jumpers run was a thing of beauty--smooth, under control, and efficient. LOVED it. We missed a QQ because in standard he dropped a bar.

On Sunday it was standard first, and he ran past the table. However, when I checked the results, if he didn't have that refusal, he would have beaten the first placed dog by 7 seconds. Wow! That kind of statistic keeps me hopeful. :-)

A great weekend with good--although dizzying--courses and fellowship with friends.

Friday, June 10, 2011

"The house began to twitch"

I felt like I was in the Wizard of Oz movie last night. We had terrible thumderstorms. I was standing in the kitchen packing up dog food for the upcoming weekend trial when I looked up and saw debris literally flying past the window. I yelled, "Doggies, come!" and all four rallied around me. We went into the powder room and huddled there for about 10 minutes.

After the storm we went outside to see damages. We have large trees (probably over 100 years old) and with every storm we have limbs come down. One very large limb fell on the fence gate and popped it off the support posts. Another limb split the Rose of Sharon bush. Luckily the neither the house nor the shed were damaged. One limb had jammed against the back door, and I couldn't get out that way.

I felt bad for Cosi. He came home from camp yesterday afternoon all tired and feeling good. He had been outside in the heat and had gone in the pond to cool off. He was still wet when I picked him up. So I had to get out the blow dryer. If you leave a dog wet and damp, they can develop skin issues. The dryer is his #3 hated thing. Then I needed to trim his nails and feet. This is his #2 hated thing. Finally, a storm came--his #1 hated thing! I could just picture the balloon over his head. "Can this evening get any worse?!"

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

New Purchase


I found this wonderful decoration and purchased it for the rennovated living room. I put it on the mantle; it makes me smile.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Congratulations, David

We were thrilled to be able to attend my nephew's high school graduation in Indiana this past weekend. Our David will be attending Butler College in Indiana this fall, majoring in music. We are so proud of him.

In the photo below David and I pose together before the ceremony. As you can see, it was a *bright* day!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Rule Changes

I got the agility judges newsletter yesterday and read about some of the new regulation changes. Here's a quick recap:

The exit of the weave poles now has to be at least 12 feet from the edge of the ring (the fencing). Thank goodness! I know some dogs have problem weaving into a wall.

It used to be that if a handler knocked over a stanchion, you would NQ. Now it's if *either* a dog or handler knocks a stanchion, the team NQ's.

Finally, if a handler wants to change the score to NQ their dog, they may. For example, if you know your dog popped at #10 in the weave poles but the judge didn't see it or call it or the scribe didn't record it, you can correct the score and have your team NQ'd. Good news for the few honest people left in the world, eh?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Good Behavior

Cosi gets in a quick nap on "Cousin Susie's" comfy bed.

The dogs are on their best behavior at Grandma's house. They are sharing beds and water bowls. Why is it that the water in someone else's bowl always tastes better? Is that like the doggie equivalent of the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence?

The best thing about Grandma's house is the low windowsills. The house is like one giant yard to Brisco who bops from one window to another, "chasing" the (fill in the blank here: dog walking, person jogging, or kid on a bike) outside all the while in air-conditioned comfort! We love Grandma's house.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Captions

What captions would you put with these pictures?

Do I hafta wear this? I wanted to be a penguin for Halloween this year!

I wonder if I can get in the treat jar. If only I had opposable thumbs...

You get it. No, YOU get it. It's one of those pinch bugs!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Lull in the Action

Cosi and I will be off the trial circuit for a while now. We will compete in June but then we're off until August. The indoor place I used to frequent with Brisco in July and August has indoor/outdoor carpet as its surface. Cosi slides on that; he needs sprint turf for grip. So there will be a lull in the action for a while, which is good too. We can work on foundation skills and enjoy classes.

Here's a good foundation drill to work front crosses and serpentines:

Set up two jumps in sequence about 15 feet apart. With your dog on your left, run from jump #1 to jump #2, slowing up right before jump #2 to cue a turn. Turn towards the dog and now he's on your right. Run towards jump #1, slowing up to cue the turn, and turn towards the dog.

For serpentines, turn the jumps so they are parallel to each other. Set the dog up with his left shoulder just about at the jump bar. On the opposite side of the jump and with your left arm cuing the jump, release the dog. Switch to your right arm and indicate jump #2.

Happy Training!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Safe Journey, Anna

Today our Anna leaves for a year-long internship in Ottowa. We wish her well and safe journey. She is a light in our lives.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Heartbreaker

That Cosi is a heartbreaker. On the second day of the trial we had great runs in both standard and jumpers. However, in standard we had one dropped bar. In jumpers he popped at #10 weave pole (I don't know why; I was running straight). I checked his time at the results sheets as we didn't get a copy sheet ringside. In standard he beat the first placed dog by 1 second; in jumpers he beat the first placed dog by 4 seconds. If we had run clean, we could have had to first places. *sigh* shoulda. coulda. woulda.

Next time.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Q Beats Working!

Cosi and I are at a three-day agility trial--in the middle of the week! We ran standard and jumpers today, and qualified in jumpers! #2!! Here's the uploaded video on YouTube. I was very proud of this run as it required front crosses and Cosi keeping his back legs UP. With all the bars up at the end, I was a happy, happy handler.

Click here to watch the video.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

NQ

NQ - Not Qualified. These are the letters that appear on your score sheet when the judge--for whatever reason--takes your qualification (Q) away from you. Perhaps your dog fouled the ring, perhaps you touched your dog to guide him into the weaves, or perhaps you used foul language. These are obvious reasons for an NQ.

I recently saw a scene at a trial, and, after you read it, let me know what you would have done, what you think of the outcome. Here's what happened:

A woman ran her sheltie in standard and Q'd. She then ran him in jumpers and Q'd. This was her 20th QQ so she earned her MACH. The club was prepared for this, and a club member handed a jump bar to her while she and the dog were still in the ring. She took the bar and did a victory lap. The dog was unsure (why is she holding this big thing and running towards me?) and skittered away from her and out of the ring. Rule #1 in AKC: Your dog must be on leash when they leave the ring or it's an NQ. The woman tried to call the dog back to her. He had jumped onto a chair that was ringside and sat there, making no motion to go back to her. Rule #2 in AKC: If your dog leaves the ring, it must return to you to get its leash on or it's an NQ. A fellow competitor tried to "help" by picking up the dog and handing it to the woman. Rule #3 in AKC: If your dog leaves the ring, no one else may touch it or it's double handling and you NQ. The judge, meanwhile, was making faces as if to say, "OK. I'll overlook his leaving the ring. Hmmm....he's not coming back. No! Don't touch it, don't make me call this. Rats." The judge regretfully came over and told the woman she'd have to NQ her run.

Do you think the judge did the correct thing by NQ'ing the run? Here are some arguments that were floating around the crowd ringside:

She was already done with her run, what does it matter if the dog left the ring?

It was a MACH run, the judge should have given her the Q.

The judge was right because the other person touched the dog.

What are your thoughts?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Great Weekend

Jack and Cosi and I traveled to Maryland this weekend for the Shetlant Sheepdog of Greater Baltimore trial. We had a great weekend. The site (a new indoors sports center) had great footing, the hotel was clean and close to the site, and we went out to dinner both nights (always a favorite for me!).

Cosi and I got our first leg in Excellent B jumpers with weaves. We had a good run on a tough course, one that a lot of fast dogs were messing up at the end. Here's the video:

We had fun at this trial, but then SSCBG is always a good luck charm for me. Brisco and I got our MACH at their trial. The tradition of good runs continues!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Mike's Mid-Life Crisis

Mike and Jenny have always been tight. They play together, sleep together (see above photo), and he looks to her for security when he's unsure. I always say that Jenny--not me--raised Mike.

This week when Mike turned 7, Mom said, "That makes him 49 in human years. Is he having a mid-life crisis?" I laughed and said, "Yes, he's talking about getting a Corvette and dating a younger Poodle."

Our friend, Debbie, had the best ending to this story. She maintains that Jenny (11 dog years old) is a couger and will be driving Mike around town, showing off her "younger man"!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sheltie? Or Leprechan?

I came home tonight to find my green-pawed Sheltie. Had Cosi turned into a Leprechan? Or had he just been in the fresh-cut grass too long? If he's a Leprechan, I hope our luck holds long enough for the trial this weekend. Perhaps with a bit o' the luck of the Irish, we can get a Q.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mike

Today my Mike is 7. Here are pictures of the sweetest Sheltie on the planet:

Mike at 5 months...all ears and sweet expression

Mike after a bath...all fluff.

How can you resist that dear face?

Mike in his fully glory. His coat has always been spectacular.

Happy birthday, sweetie.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Success With One Jump

Have you seen the Success With One Jump DVD by Susan Garrett? It is chock full of great practice exercises. When I watched our trial videos, I noticed Cosi is head checking me again. So I went back to basics and got out my SWOJ DVD. Yesterday we practiced the "check" (which means wrap and come back to me) and the "go" (which means send). Nothing is "fixed" (I hate that word with regards to a dog's behavior) in one practice, but we had a great time and he was performing the behaviors 85% of the time.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Importance of Greenery

This whole house rennovation has been a huge learning experience for me. With the furniture and lights in place, I thought we were done. Not so. Yesterday Margie took us to a warehouse chock full of greenery and faux flowers. We chose a six foot palm tree for the living room, ferns and ivy for various planters, and flowers for the arrangements on the living room coffee table and the dining room table.

When we came home and placed the palm tree in the living room, I was amazed at the difference. Here's a before picture:

Now here is the same corner of the living room with the new light and palm tree:

Amazing.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Evolution of a Dog Name

How many names does your dog respond to? Here's the evolution of my dogs' names:
Jenny

Jenny The Jett

Jett Jett

Jetters

Puss

Miss Puss

Princess Puss

Brisco

Brisc

Brisconater (like Terminator)

The Nater

Mike

Mike N Ike

Mike A Mike

Mick Da Mike

Mikey Mike

Cosworth

Cos

Cosi

Cosi Bear (like Fosi Bear)

Cos Man

Cosmania

Bear Bear

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Curse Continues

Every year Dauphin has a four-day trial in the spring and a three-day trial in the fall. And every year the weather is absurd. I remember one year there was a hurricane! After all these years outdoors, Dauphin finally moved indoors. However, the curse continued. We had 40 mph winds and wild rain today. Just bizzare.

Cosi has been doing well, keeping his head in the game for three days. We had a glorious Excellent FAST run this morning, snagging 79 of 80 points. I hadn't done that since Novice FAST. We came in third behind two top dogs, each of which had 80 points. I was very pleased with his run.

It continued in Excellent Standard. (see video below). I did my lead out, and he stood up (for the first time in a long time), testing the criteria. I gave him the hand signal for sit, and he did. I immediately released him and we were off. His stride was off, so he hit the double. But the rest of the run was fabulous! We were connected, he read my body commands (opposite arm to indicate *not* to take an obstacle), and we had a fast time. It's runs like this that keep me wanting to play.

Monday, April 11, 2011

So Much Going On

I haven't written for a while because I haven't been in front of a computer long enough to write a blog entry.

Here are some highlights:

When Janice was here visiting, we were driving down a 4-lane divided highway when overhead we saw this massive bird. As it neared the ground, we saw it was a bald eagle. What an experience to see such a beautiful bird. The white head and tail feathers were quite striking.

Margie continued to work her magic on the rennovation of the house. She delivered some re-framed art work and decorative pillows. The furniture arrived, and she was on hand to help place everything. What a change! I'm overwhelmed. It turned out even better than I imagined. Everett helped to hang the artwork and curtains. He's been such a blessing. We couldn't have done it without him.

Our agility club co-hosted a huge trial that brought a lot of big name handlers to the event. One of those people was Susan Garrett. To say I was star struck is an understatement. There, in the flesh and blood, was the person I've been reading, seeing on the web, and following for the past three years. How exciting. I got to talk briefly with her ringside; it was the highlight of the weekend for me. Cosi and I Q'd in Gamblers and ran very well in standard and jumpers. If not for knocked bar (one in each class), we would have had a banner weekend. I watched my videos; he's head checking to see where I am. Looks like I have to get out the Success With One Jump video and get some practice exercises...from Susan Garrett, of course!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Great Spring Walks

As the dogs and I walked this evening, I noticed all the signs of spring. The crocus plants are up and blooming, the daffodils are nodding in the breeze, and even the dogwood trees are starting to bud. These portents of warmer weather are a joy as we walk.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Gotcha!

Last night our educators group (7 retired teachers/administrators and me) got together for our quarterly dinner and activity. Since there are four couples, we each take a turn organizing an activity and dinner for the group. This means the difficult decision of where to eat and what would engage this fun-loving, competitive group.

Last night we played laser tag. What a hoot! We were among four other groups that played. We were divided into a Red team and a Blue team. There were all age ranges and levels of experience. We were all on the Blue team and were hammered by the Red team, which, apparently, had experienced and *young* players.

Afterwards we went to a unique restaurant. It's theme is Robin Hood. They even have a tree house with a real tree growing right through the center where you can dine in privacy, overlooking the countryside. I'm sure in warmer weather, it would be lovely. The menu is pub fare, quite good. Then when the bill comes, you get to choose from three non-profit charities. Five percent of your bill goes to the charity--take from the rich and give to the poor. See? How cool is that!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Recallers 2.0

I just registered for Susan Garrett's next on-line course, Recallers 2.0. Her 5-minute formula is brilliant. It really changed the way I work with my dogs. Instead of yanking on a leash and correcting, we play games. These games, designed to build reinforcement for *me* to be their cookie, makes it *their* decision to come to me, to want to work, to seek out "da mamma." Plus it is a fun, fun way to train. It beats the socks off the old hard discipline methods of the past. And who doesn't have 5 minutes to play a game each day with your dog?

I'll keep you posted on our fun and success. Cosi sure enjoyed Recallers 1.0! I know he's ready for more.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

No more bags - UPDATE (photo included)

I have been living out of garbage bags for a few weeks while my two dressers were being re-finished. This rennovation project is taking on a life of its own! The "new" dressers came back today from Furniture Medic in Elizabethtown. They are gorgeous. He did a fabulous job refinishing and repairing the two dressers. They were my mother's. I'm so glad I could keep these items yet update them to go with the new decor.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

York Trial

Cosi and I stayed local this weekend and went to the York trial. It was indoors at a soccer place; great footing and easy commute. No Q's for us this weekend; however, we had bits and pieces of brilliance. For example, in the JWW run on Sunday there were two jumps side-by-side which made for tricky handling. Most handlers were sending in to the tunnel and then blind crossing out of the tunnel to the left-hand side jump. Since blind crosses are not in our system, I opted instead on sending Cosi "out" while staying on the right side of the two jumps. It worked. Then he dropped a bar on a pinwheel. See? We got the tough stuff and messed up the easy stuff. On Saturday the winner in the 16" class had a time of 38.2. We ran the course in 37 with one dropped bar. *sigh*

The other plus was getting our connection back after we'd lose it. Cosi still needs to work on keep working even though he gets higher and higher as he runs. We'll keep on working, practicing, and trying to keep that connection as we run. Please keep your paws crossed for us. =:O)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Jenny

I'm here to "tell tales out of school" on Miss Jenny. She's the perfect poodle--smart, sweet natured, bossy, and, at times, playful. But I'm here to tell you...this dog s-n-o-r-e-s! I had trouble sleeping last night because I was kept awake with the snores coming from her dog bed. Then she started dreaming. What a hoot! First she just snuffled. Then she growled. Finally a muffled bark came out. Must have been some dream. I was LOL at her.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Textbook

Cosi and I went to NJ for our first trial of the season. Our standard run on Saturday was textbook. He had perfect contacts, outstanding weaves, and good lateral distance. The connection between us was awesome. Here's the video:

Our jumpers runs this weekend were sooooooooooo close. On Saturday I pulled too soon and he popped at #10 weave pole. Totally my fault. Then on Sunday he had a Wahoo! spin, and the judge rung him up for a refusal. *sigh* We seem snake-bit in jumpers. On the plus side: #1 all the bars stayed up for both runs, #2 I got in front crosses, and #3 we ran a good, controled run. I'm feeling positive that we'll get a JWW Q soon.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Puns

Evidence has been found that William Tell and his family were avid bowlers. However, all the league records were unfortunately destroyed in a fire. Thus we'll never know for whom the Tells bowled.

A marine biologist developed a race of genetically engineered dolphins that could live forever if they were fed a steady diet of seagulls. One day his supply of birds ran out, so he had to go out and trap some more. On the way back, he spied two lions asleep on the road. Afraid to wake them, he gingerly stepped over them. Immediately he was arrested and charged with transporting gulls across sedate lions for immortal porpoises.

A skeptical anthropologist was cataloging South American folk rememdies with the assistance of a tribal brujo (witch) who indicated that the leaves of a particular fern were a sure cure for any case of constipation. When the anthropologist expressed his doubts, the brujo looked him in the eye and said, "Let me tell you, with fronds like these, who needs enemas?"

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

From Puppies to Old Age

MACH Bonnie's Brisco, age 12

I've been reading Susan Garrett's blog page about her puppy, Swagger, and it got me to thinking. Well, it got me reflecting, actually. When we see our puppies, we marvel at their instincts, their ability to learn so much so fast. We think about their potential and can't wait to see what's next.

Then the training for a sport (fly ball, agility, obedience, herding, field trials...) starts. They learn to play our games. When their mental game and physical capabilities come together, it's a thing of beauty. The other week in class, I was doing a lead out and as I watched Cosi coming towards me, I was in awe. I just stood there; I didn't move out of the way in time to cue the next obstacle. Coleen said, "Were you watching your dog?" I answered, "Yes. Isn't he gorgeous?"

When our dogs move into their "old age," we marvel at them again. They've accomplished our goals, they've developed their own "funny" ways, and we indulge them. My Brisco is now 12, and he's a champion in every sense of the word. As we go walking in the evenings, he's now at the back of the pack, whereas before he lead the group. But he's motoring right along with his funny gait. His one hip is sore, and he accommodates it by swinging it wide when he walks. He can still get a treat out of Daddy with just a sweet look and a chin on Daddy's knee. I don't think of him as old, yet when I see the white in his fur, I realize his prime is past. Yet I feel there is still a lot more to enjoy with Brisco.

Enjoy your dogs at every age. Enjoy the journey.