Monday, June 30, 2008

When to start our next agility class?

Mom has been debating about whether to switch to another training club for agility and if we do, start next week or wait until September 4. We emailed the director of training at the new place and she said she thought we could start in their beginning intermediate class (so skip their beginner's and advanced beginner's classes). We like the idea of starting at the intermediate level, but mom is wondering if we should take two months and work together to try to become a better team (ie. get me to pay more attention and be more focused and not blow her off). If we don't wait, we would start the class on July 10. Our trainer Deb offered to have us take her obedience class again (it's also on Thursday nights so we can't do both) and when we went last week, I did really well. It's an off-leash class and if we really get it this time, it could help cement a bond that mom and I have been working to develop since I met mom! I am 16 months old now and will be a little over a year and a half if we wait until September for agility class. One thing for sure - mom does not want to get us into that intermediate class and have us fail! We can't afford to pay for a class again and again until we pass it.



Last evening mom tried to get me to practice some agility with her - just a little jumping with lateral sends to the tunnel and I wasn't interested at all. I wanted to run to the gate to see cars and people go by, and I wanted to be on the look out for squirrels, etc. in the yard. Mom got pretty bummed out although she tried to hide it from me. So this morning, since it was cool and cloudy out, mom thought it would be a good time to practice. She got out a secret weapon - BilJac liver treats (I had never had one - Mom doesn't give me those kinds of things because of all the less-than-good ingredients in them. We got them as a present from our last agility instructor.) Well, I had no trouble getting excited about agility after one wiff of that liver! We didn't do anything too fancy but did jump, tire, table, weaves (mom put all 12 of my weave poles into the ground so now I do 12 at once!) - I did weaves three times - perfect each time. Wish we had a video of that! So mom just needs to find something that will motivate me like that liver does!

Gotta zoom!

Ricky

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Disastrous Agility Level 1 Class 7 (final class)

Last night was my final level 1 agility class. It ended up being a disaster. We got there early in the pouring rain and ran into the building (very hot and sticky) to try the chute. Darn if I didn't want to go through it again - even though I did it three times last week on my own. I only went through if mom held it open for me. I then waited in the car as usual while mom helped set up. The final class was a simple course with all of the equipment we have been working on. The sequences were not fancy. The order of the obstacles was: tire, broad jump, tunnel, a-frame, table, weaves (we set up 6 poles without wires for me), chute, jump, panel jump, jump, dog walk, and jump. There was a lot of waiting around for it to be my turn. Mom and I straightened out the chute each time one dog finished the course, and I got a treat for helping with that and we also tried to play some sideline games. Finally it was my turn. Mom wanted to try just having me run the course without treats and stops. We should've been able to do it with no problem (except the chute). Mom lead out past the tire and said "Ok, Ricky, tire!" I flew through the tire and then walked over the broad jump. We went back and tried the broad jump again. I walked it again. (Mind you, we have one set up at home and I jump that now at least 80% of the time). Mom gave up and clumsily sent me into the tunnel. I came out and blew mom off and ran over to the two instructors in the middle of the ring to see if they might have a treat for me. Mom came and got me and came and got me (I was sure the instructors had treats!) and after a couple tries, I went over the a-frame and to a sit on the table. After a good wait on the table I went sailing through the weaves. I then refused the chute until mom held it up and called me through. Then we did the jumps, the dog walk and the final jump.

After the class was over, we found out that the instructors were recommending that we take level 1 again! Because I can't do the chute by myself and I'm not confident enough on the other obstacles (?) Mom was pretty upset. The next class starts 3 weeks from last night so that would mean 12 weeks until we might get to level 2! Three months. And really the chute is our only problem. We have been learning a lot on our own and didn't learn much in the class. Mom couldn't bear to do it again. She tried to appeal to the instructors but our class instructor sent over the level 2 instructor to talk to us and she said if I couldn't do the chute then I couldn't go to the next level because I would hold back other dogs. End of story. Mom didn't sign us up to repeat level 1 so now we're not sure what we'll do.

We think we need some private lessons to maybe get into a higher level class at another training club. We know too much for beginner classes but not enough for advanced. Money is a problem right now so mom may just work harder at training me by herself.

I have to say that there is really no excuse for me blowing mom off on the course. I have a feeling that mom is not going to let that slide - I may be in for a lot of work on focus and teamwork (I have always been an independent pup, but I'm not sure I'll be getting away with too much of that any more!). Mom also knows that there could've been some value in repeating the level 1 class. But she didn't agree with the teaching methods (especially when they contributed to messing me up about the chute in the first place). And no one warned us that we would have to be held back if I couldn't do the chute on my own.

All in all, quite a disaster, but in the big scheme of things, not really.

Gotta zoom!

Ricky

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Recall practice

A week ago Saturday Mom and I went to visit grandpa and grandma and we had fun doing some fast and long recalls out in their backyard. Mom went at least 200 yards away from me and I ran like the wind when she called me! We put this video on my YouTube channel but we can't figure out how to get the actual YouTube video onto this blog entry! So we hope you enjoy it here or check it out on my channel!

video

We also apologize for the less than professional camera work. Mom is new to the world of video-ing (and video editing)!

Gotta zoom!

Ricky

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Agility Level 1 Class 6

Wednesday night was our 6th level 1 agility class. We went early again to work on the chute and the broad jump. Mom put a strawberry on the target again and held the chute open a little and called me through. Then she put the chute on the ground and said "Go chute!" and I did it! I knew that piece of strawberry was waiting for me on the other side and I just went for it! I did it three times in a row! Then we set up the broad jump and I jumped right over it. So the broad jump that Grandpa made for me to practice with at home must be working.

When class started, we worked on sequences of three obstacles. Like broad jump, tunnel, a-frame. I didn't have any problems with the broad jump in the class. When it was my turn to do the chute, however, I didn't want to go through again. Maybe too many people hovering nearby or too much noise or since it was at the end of the class, maybe I was just tired out. Thankfully though it was much cooler in the building than the previous two weeks, and I had a lot more get up and go as a result.

Next week is our last class and we are going to do a course for graduation. Supposedly little sequences where we can stop in between if we need to. Mom is hoping we might be able to go through the entire course like a run-through. We'll see what it is like when we get there.

Gotta zoom!

Ricky

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Did someone say "Bath"?

Well, it had been a long time since the last one. Even I had noticed that I was starting to smell and my coat wasn't shiny and silky any more. But when I heard, "Come on, Ricky, let's get a bath" I ran and hid next to the lounge chair hoping that if I made myself small and quiet, mom might just not notice me and forget about the whole bath thing. Unfortunately, she was not about to be deterred. I was a good boy though and took it like a dog. I have to admit that the cool water felt very good on my skin since it was like 90 outside. I wouldn't go so far as to admit that I liked the bath, however.
Seriously, the indignities of it all - I just endured the bath, but now I have to pose for a towel photo all because mom saw a photo of a Sheltie in a towel that she thought was so cute...
At least it's all over for now!

Gotta zoom!

Ricky

Friday, June 13, 2008

Agility Level 1 Class 5

We went early again to our agility class on Wednesday night. Mom had a chute plan for me. She brought a target and some small pieces of strawberry (my current favorite treat!). Earlier in the day she put a strawberry on the target and sent me through our chute - I flew straight through as I was very keen on getting that berry I knew was waiting for me. So when we got to the real chute, mom rolled it up first and sent me through the barrel part and I did it right away for that delicious strawberry! Then she put all of the chute material out on the floor, loaded up the target, put me in a wait and held up the chute a little off the floor so I could see the other end. When she called me, I went through! Yea! We did it about three or four times and I ran through every time! Success! (Next week we'll try dropping it as I run through). We also did a little weave practice so that I could try the weave poles at our club. (I can't do them during the class because those pups are all using wires.)



When class started we worked on the broad jump. The first time mom let me try as it was and I walked over it. So she asked the instructor if we could put a bar jump over the broad jump ( we got this great idea from Diana at http://4dogcraziness.blogspot.com/ so thank you to her!) (BTW I have no idea how to put links in here the correct way; if I did, you would be able to just click on "Diana" and it would take you to her blog!) Any way it worked like a charm! We jumped a couple times and then removed the bar jump and I still jumped the broad jump! Then we practiced the a-frame and it was set up a little steeper than before. I ran right up and over it. On the way down, I kind of slide and can't stop to do 2o2o, so mom is just going to have me wait at the bottom on the ground. (We are considering changing all of our contacts to running contacts any way, we'll see..) And then it was time for the chute during the class. Mom and I went last and loaded up the target just like in practice. Mom held the chute up a little for me and I went through it again! Hurray for small steps forward!

The rest of the class was rather uneventful. It was really hot in the building again even with fans going. But mom wet me down before we went in and that seemed to help some.

Last night was our last advanced obedience class with Deb. Too bad that we had to miss two of the seven classes. I think this really hurt us because we placed last out of 5 dogs in the mock competition! I did great on the one-minute sit/stay and the three-minute down/stay ( as a matter of fact all 5 dogs were perfect - no one got up!), and I did a great stand/stay and a fairly respectable recall (could've been a better front). What mom and I really need to work on is our heeling - on and off-leash. Mom is the first to admit that she has never worked on this seriously enough with me. I was slow to sit when she stopped (but I did eventually sit), and I lag behind her, and sometimes I sniff the floor! It was a little disappointing. Oh well. If we ever want to compete for real and get my CD, we'll have to get to work! I tell mom if there are strawberries involved then I'm in!

Gotta zoom!

Ricky

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Clean Run

We are finally getting a little break from the extreme heat! Hurray! Today mom and I went to the park to do some long-line walking and dad met us there and walked with us for a while. We had a great time as usual. This afternoon mom and dad taught lessons (I helped mom teach her students). Then after dinner we did some agility practice! Mom got a subscription to Clean Run for her birthday. She loves it and can't believe how chalk full of information it is. She reads an article and gets all excited and inspired and tries to do the exercise or drill with me. Tonight we tried out some of the drills with the number 6! The first couple were pretty easy and then they started to get harder. For instance, mom doesn't really know what a "reverse flow pivot" is yet - but she'll figure it out. There are so many drills with the number 6 that it'll be a while before we get through them all. We also need to make one more jump so we have four jumps plus the tire. Tomorrow night is our agility class - another chance to work on the chute. Oh, we have been practicing on a broad jump of sorts in the house - sometimes I jump it and sometimes I walk over it. Don't ask me why - I know I only get a treat if I jump it! I guess I am testing to see if I can get away with walking on it and maybe mom won't notice and she'll reward me any way?

Gotta zoom!


Ricky

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Heat Wave!

Here in Ohio we are having a heat wave! Today is supposed to hit 92 with a heat index of over 100! Surely no Shetland Sheepdog was made for this kind of weather! I doubt that it ever gets up to 90 on the Shetland Islands - it's just crazy. The heat has really put the brakes on my agility training and on fun walks in the park (or fun walks any where for that matter)! Mom and I have still been taking our morning walks and it's already hot and sticky at 7:00AM. This morning mom got out my wading pool right after we got home from our walk. I am not a huge fan of the pool (I prefer to bite at the water streaming out of the hose). But I actually got in the pool and found it to be quite refreshing. After we got cooled down, we did practice a little agility and some obedience. Our final class with Deb is this Thursday and it's a mock novice obedience trial. When I took the class last time, I won the trial. So the pressure is on this time to better my performance. That's why we were practicing obedience too. I think I am better on everything except off-leash heeling. I like to lag behind mom. Well, especially when it's HOT!

Our water irises are blooming now. I am admiring them in the photo below. Aren't they a beautiful shade of purple? BTW, I look rather wilted, don't I?

We did a little yard work and gardening this morning and have been trying to stay cool in the house this afternoon. Hope you all are having a great weekend and staying cool too! We might get a break in the heat by Tuesday. I'll keep my paws crossed!

Gotta zoom!

Ricky

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Agility Level 1 Class 4

Last night was our 4th level 1 agility class. Mom and I went a little early so we could try the chute on our own before it got noisy and crazy in the room. We rolled up the chute material so I could try just going through the barrel part. After a little coaxing, I did it. But when mom fixed the material so that it was just a tiny bit out of the barrel and just a tiny bit obscuring the opening, I didn't want to go in there. With lots of encouragement, I finally went through and we decided that was enough for the evening. Mom is trying to figure me out - am I afraid of the blue nylon material - does it feel funny or smell funny? Because I don't have any problem going right through our chute at home that is made out of an old vinyl shower curtain. So I do know what it's like to push through material and come out the other end. Hmmm..... Later in the class while we were waiting to do another obstacle, mom had me touch the chute material with my nose (I didn't want to at first) and then she had me walk on top of it. Not so bad.

When we started the actual class, the instructor that was working with our side of the room said, "Ok we are going to start with the chute." Mom calmly said that she wasn't going to have me do it any more at the moment, so we started with jumps. Last night we did our first curvy tunnel and our first real dogwalk (lower one than the regulation one.) Still it was my first time to go across a real dogwalk! It was awesome because there was a Zuke's mini on the target at the other end and you know I love Zuke's! So I am doing great with all the obstacles except the chute and also the broad jump! I just don't get it - why should I jump the broad jump when it looks like a board that I should just walk across? I mean, we don't jump the dogwalk, do we? Mom is going to make a broad jump-type jump for me to practice on at home. That should help me out a lot.

Oh, we found out that the agility building is not air conditioned! We are having a heat wave in Ohio now and it was so hot in there last night! Great - I am not a fan of running and jumping when I am hot. It may be difficult to learn agility in that building this summer.

There are only 3 more classes to go and then hopefully we'll be promoted to level 2 (as long as they don't hold the chute against me). We won't learn the teeter until level 2 and then they start out with it not teetering at all. Crazy how slowly all of this goes. I have been doing my teeter at home for several months. You may be wondering why we don't go to a different training facility. Well, if you are a member of our dog club (pay membership dues of $85 once a year), you can take as many classes as you want for free. So even though mom is less than thrilled with the agility program so far, we are going to try to stick with it for the obvious financial reasons.

Gotta zoom,

Ricky

Monday, June 2, 2008

Snow in June?

What the heck is going on? Is it snowing in June when it's sunny and 80? No, it's cottonwood fluff from the enormous 50+ year-old cottonwood tree that is in our neighbor's backyard.
Yesterday it really started to "snow" heavily. Today it is almost impossible to hang out in the yard. Everything is getting covered with fluff and lots of it gets carried inside the house too. Must be a good way to propagate - those little cottonwood seeds travel far and wide on the wind.
The pictures just don't show how much fluff there is! Maybe if we get rain tonight, there will be less fluff tomorrow. At least that's what mom is hoping!

Gotta zoom!

Ricky