Friday, September 26, 2008

Beginning intermediate agility class 4

What's this photo have to do with agility class? Nothing! Mom just thinks it's cute!


Last night was week 4 of my beginning intermediate agility class. We left the house super early in order to avoid a repeat of last week's late arrival. We got to the class building 30 minutes before. That was ok, actually, because mom and I went for a little walk, did some stretches and a few tricks. Then we got to do the aframe on our own a few times before class started. I did it but not very fast.


When class started, we reviewed what mom needs to do for a front cross, a pull, and a lead-out push. Mom knows what these moves are but thinks they are easier to do in context rather than practicing with one jump sort of in the abstract. But she really understands the purpose of each one now. We also talked about extension and collection.


Our first station last night was weave poles. The instructor really wants me to be able to weave with one wire on for the entry and one for the exit. I was still shying away from the wires, so she took a really long time to help me to be more comfortable. She pushed the wire all the way to the ground and then it didn't bother me at all. Then she gradually raised the height, and I tolerated it being there. She also says that when mom moves more confidently, I behave more confidently too. She thinks the noise in the building and the distractions make me slower and less confident and more wary about what I am doing. So private lessons wouldn't help me to overcome that. This means that we are going to need to repeat this same level class again next month. Ok, as long as it makes me more secure.


Then we went on to teeter and jumps and tunnel. I did three pretty good teeters - with 2o2o at the end. And my jumps and tunnel were fine. But by the fourth time on the teeter, I had had enough and jumped off.


After that it was contacts and dogwalk/tunnel discrimination. Well, I had never seen a tunnel under a dogwalk before. What the heck was it doing there? I didn't like it. I went slowly into the tunnel and even refused to go in - my first tunnel refusal. Mom was so proud (NOT!). So my instructor worked on getting me over that too - she moved the tunnel away a little and had mom work on getting me to do the dogwalk. We also did dogwalk, tunnel, aframe, double jump. I knocked the bar on the double when I went over it at an angle. That's something we can practice at home.


Finally we did jumps - a little quiz on the LOP, pull and FC. Then we practiced doing fast downs on the table. I am good at that! And I stay put while mom walks away from me - so theoretically, she may be able to do a big lead out from the table once we start trialing.


All in all not a bad class. Tomorrow we are going to watch an agility trial and hopefully see some of our instructors (past and present) in action. Should be good for mom to watch and learn and good for me to soak up the sights and sounds.


Gotta zoom!

Ricky

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Trip to the Lake

Yesterday dad and mom took me to the lake to swim and walk. For the very first time I got to run along the beach without any kind of leash on! Freedom! I ran and zoomed and swam a little bit and chased dad in and out of the water! I was careful not to abuse my rights to freedom and stuck with dad and mom. There is a dog trail near the beach that we explored. It was a beautiful sunny and cool morning. Perfect for cool weather shelties!







We had an awesome time!!!

Gotta zoom!

Ricky

Windstorm video

Here is a little video dad took in our backyard during the windstorm. You can see the power line down in the fish pond garden. (Well, I guess you can't really see it. The quality of the video went way down when it was converted from quick time to something that windows movie maker would accept).

video

Gotta zoom!

Ricky

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

We're still here!

Hi everybody!!! We finally got our cable and internet back yesterday. The line to our house was damaged in the storm so it took awhile to get someone to fix it. But we are back to normal here. We were very lucky - much more fortunate than those in Texas who are still way far from getting back to normal. Our hearts go out to them. From the little taste we got of what a hurricane is like, we can't imagine what it must be like for those people! Our electricity went off Sunday the 14th around 4:00PM and didn't come back on until Friday evening around 5:00PM. We really appreciate electricity much more now and don't take it for granted!

Of course there were some positive things about last week. First of all, we had a great time with grandpa and grandma! We spent four nights there and had wonderful company and great meals! I got to run in their big yard each day - I am even getting better at fetch! I am learning from watching my cousin Wilson! My personal record is 7 times of running way out into the yard and bringing the tennis ball back to mom.

On Thursday night I had my 3rd beginning intermediate agility class. This class was our worst so far! The traffic was really bad and it took us twice as long to get there as it should've. So we were late and had to go from sitting in the car for 50 minutes straight into action at the class. We did weave poles first. I kept entering the poles and stopping after one or two to bite at my leg. Mom discovered that I had a burr in my fur (where I picked that up I have no idea). She got it out and then I did the weaves just fine. No wires, thank goodness. We just worked on getting a little speed. Then it was on to contacts. I did a slow but accurate dogwalk but I didn't want to do the aframe at all. Mom encouraged me but I scrabbled up it on my toe nails - it was awful! The instructor picked me up to check to see if I was sore. She showed us how to stretch out my legs. She thought that maybe I was a little sore (earlier in the day dad accidentally rolled his chair back and I was sleepy and didn't move quickly enough and he caught some hair and some of my foot - maybe that was why I was sore). When we moved to the next station, I did a slow teeter but refused to jump the double. After that we did jumps but I didn't want to do those either. So it was pretty much a wasted class. And after we drove in all that traffic to get there! Mom is starting to wonder if maybe classes aren't the right thing for us. We'll see how it goes tomorrow night.

On Saturday I took my CGC test! Our first "competition"! The very first part went well - accepting a stranger and sitting politely for petting. No problems there. Next - appearance and grooming - I looked good, of course, but this lady leaned over me and went right for my ears to examine them and I did not like that at all! I was very fearful and tried to get over next to mom and away from this lady! I also did not want to have anything to do with her touching my feet! Mom asked if we could go on and do the other stations and come back and try again. (Thankfully mom had watched Johann's video of his CGC test and knew that it was possible to try again! Thanks, Johann!) So we went on to other tasks - walking through a crowd, sit and down on command/stay in place, coming when called, reaction to another dog, reaction to distractions, out for a walk. I did all those with no problems. Then we went back to the grooming one, and there was a different lady there. She was very nice and got down on the ground so she wouldn't seem so intimidating to me. Mom got down on the ground too and I managed to be brave enough to let the new lady touch my ears. Then mom handed the lady my front feet one at a time and I let the lady touch them. Whew!! Passed, but just barely!!!! Finally I did my supervised separation - there was no way I was going anywhere without my mom, so I easily laid there until she came back to get me. Any way, I passed the test! Mom was very proud of me!

More later but for now....


Gotta zoom!

Ricky

Monday, September 15, 2008

Windstorm!

We had a horrendous wind storm yesterday! The remnants of hurricane Ike and a cold front combined together to create winds of 70 miles per hour. The high winds started at about 4:00PM and went on for four hours! We live in a neighborhood full of big, old trees, and they were no match for the wind. Our electricity is out (and our electric service line was ripped off the house by falling tree limbs), our phone is out, our cable is out, etc. But our house itself has very little damage. We spent the night at our house last night and with grandpa and grandma's help, we cleaned up a lot of the debris today. But since we still don't have power, we are spending the night here at grandpa and grandma's. I won't be around a computer much and we might not get our power on for a week! So I'll try to let you all know what's going on and I'll have to catch up on your blogs later!

Gotta zoom!

Ricky

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Fun with new camera!

Grandma Catherine gave dad her old digital camera - it's a way better camera than the one we already had - and he is having fun learning how to use it! We are sharing with you his very first attempts at action agility shots staring ME!





So cool!
Gotta zoom!
Ricky

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Beginning Intermediate Agility Class 2

Tonight was our second class and mom didn't like this week's class nearly as much as last week's. First of all, we went early so we could hear about how to train a running contact on the a-frame. We had to start with trying to get me to run up and over the a-frame as fast as possible. So with my leash on mom ran and I ran up and over, but not fast enough. We tried again and I started jumping from the top of the contact zone to the floor. We lowered the a-frame height and tried again. But I still didn't want to run very fast. (Mom told our instructor that I had not been on an a-frame very many times in my life). Apparently, after a dog starts running fast, you put something like a swimming noodle across the apex and as the dog runs up you tell him to jump and then he lands halfway down the other side and then his stride takes him into the contact zone. Then you move the noodle a little ways down from the apex (on the landing side) and the dog jumps a little farther and then really increases his chances of hitting the contact zone. We tried having the noodle up there but I wasn't running fast enough to make a difference. This may be impossible to do without a full-size a-frame at home or access to one frequently. Any way, mom thinks she tried to get me to do it too many times (similar to my introduction to the chute) because I started refusing to go up the frame. Not again!!!

Then the class started. Today there were only eight dogs so 2 in a group. We started at the teeter again but it was up higher than last week. I was surprised by the sound and by how fast and heavy the board is compared to mine at home. So I couldn't control a 2o2o at first. I got better at it the more I did it. The chute was also in this section and I went in without coming back out and mom would run and hold up the end so I could see her waiting there for me and I went through. So at least there is a little progress!

Next we did jumps working on front crosses and pulls (when it looks like you might do a front cross but you don't and there is no side change for the dog). This went ok except mom still sometimes gets confused about how she is turning. I think she gets so excited and forgets to think about what she is doing. Front crosses seem to speed me up. That's a good thing!

Then we went to weaves. This was one of the parts mom didn't like. There were wires for the entry and for the exit. The instructor said we had to do the weaves with the wires because in the next level class, those two wires would be on so we could practice entries - apparently if the wires are off, too many entries are wrong and then the dog is just learning wrong. Mom said I had never seen wires and she didn't want to mess me up. The instructor told her to try it and that I probably wouldn't even notice them! (Doesn't she realize I notice EVERYTHING!) Mom told me to weave but the wire freaked me out and I skipped the first two poles and the last two poles. When the wire was taken off, I got all my entries right, but did the slowest weaves ever (well, I was worried about where that wire thing was!). Now mom doesn't know whether she is going to have to re-teach me with wires or what in order to be able to go to the next class! It looks like it is difficult to come into a class where everyone else has been learning the same way and we haven't. We don't really fit in any where.

The last part of the class was contacts. I did really slow dog walks but stayed really well in my 2o2o position. I also refused to do the a-frame. I guess I figured I had already done enough of those and mom didn't push me to do it this time.

It seems like we still have a lot to learn about classes. Mom fears that she is being labeled as "difficult". I was easily distracted and slow tonight. The instructors think I lack confidence. And that the noises and activity in the building will take some getting used to. It's strange but I was never leery about any equipment until that class in beginning agility with the chute. Some how I apparently lost a lot of confidence that night. And that night made me not enjoy agility classes all that much. Mom thought we got some of the joy back with the private lesson and last week's class, but I don't know. I am much faster and better in my own yard. Too bad trials can't be held in the privacy of your own home!

We came home and went outside and I did speedy weaves with 90 degree entries. Tomorrow we're going to take the day off from agility....supposed to rain any way. We'll see what happens in class next week.

Gotta zoom!

Ricky

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Beginning Intermediate Agility Class 1

Tonight I went to my first beginning intermediate agility class! There are 12 dogs in the class (most of whom have been training at this facility already). We were split up into groups of 3 dogs and there were 4 stations to go to - 15 minutes each. The first station I went to was the teeter. I had never been on a teeter before except for the one I have at home. This one was lowered a little bit, but I got right on it with no problem. Mom is going to work with me on making sure I "hit it" and hold that 2o2o position until she releases me. At this station we also did jump, double-jump (my first double - I sailed over it with ease), and table.

At the second station I did a lot of jumps and mom worked on her handling. Front crosses - we had to do tire, jump, slice to a jump and then front cross, jump. We mixed the jumps up and added tunnel too. This was all easy for me - I'm sure it will be even easier when mom gets her handling moves down!

The third station was weaves and chute. Some dogs are still using wires and channels. So there was a set of 12 poles with wires and a set without. I used the set without. We did down and back, down and back. Mom found out that she was running too far ahead of me while I was in the poles and that was making me get distracted and pop out. The instructor told her to stay closer to me and not to worry about how fast I am doing it right now. So mom stayed closer and it worked! Weaving takes lots of concentration so I don't need mom to do anything distracting yet! If we practice with the repetitions it will help me to get into a rhythm. Then the instructor helped us practice the chute - she knew that I don't really like it. So she rolled it up and little by little let the material out - mom kept encouraging me to go through and I did. The instructor stopped after a few times and said we'll try again next week starting where we left off. We really appreciated her not pushing it too hard!

Our last station was contacts. We got to run the dogwalk and I learned that I really have to know what my job is - run fast to the bottom and hit my 2o2o and not move until mom says it's ok! For now I am going to get three treats if I hold my 2o2o while mom walks around me. Cool, I can do that! My instructor said she will help us learn to do a running contact on the a frame (with me jumping the apex!) but she really wants us to stick to 2o2o for the dogwalk and teeter.

Mom and I are really excited to start practicing the things we learned tonight! So far this class is way better than our last agility class!

Gotta zoom!

Ricky

Concert

So Tuesday evening we went on a little road trip to a small town about an hour from here so that mom could play in a concert in the park. I got to go and grandpa and grandma went too - as a matter of fact, they were kind enough to drive me and mom there!



This town is so small that they don't even have fast-food restaurants. We stopped at an ice cream shack and had sandwiches. Well, not me - as you can see by the humongous yawn, I am bored with the whole "ice cream place" thing. Been there, done that!

After our little dinner, it was on to the park. I was a model concert-goer sitting there with grandpa and grandma!
Here I am watching the action and listening to the beautiful music!
And there's my mom and her friends playing their hearts out! It was a nice little park for a concert and the people there seemed to really enjoy it.


Boy the weather has been so terribly HOT here the past few days! Mom and I have been spending most of the afternoons indoors. Tonight is our first beginning intermediate agility class at a new training facility - where we went for our private lesson. Thank goodness this place is air conditioned! We are really looking forward to being in a class again. We'll see what we learn tonight!


Gotta zoom!


Ricky

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Labor Day walk

Yesterday was Labor Day and since it was a holiday, mom and dad decided to take me out for a walk at some lesser-known parks to try to avoid crowds. So first we went to a little nature trail near here and I got to walk dragging my long line! I love that because I get to smell and smell and can run to catch up with mom and dad. After our first walk, we stopped at a grocery store and picked up a lunch and went to another nature trail. This one is even better than the first (but I didn't get to drag the long line - too much poison ivy, mom says!) The trail goes down to the river and the vegetation is so lush and varied. We usually find a lot of bugs and dragonflies there. Part of the trail floods easily so a boardwalk has been built so we can avoid the water. Mom and dad took folding chairs and their lunch and we sat on the boardwalk and ate. Of course mom remembered to bring a lunch snack for me! We had the place all to ourselves - our own private get-away! It was awesome!



Tonight mom is playing in a string quartet concert in a town about an hour from here. I get to go (since the concert is in a park!) and grandpa and grandma are going with us. Should be fun - I love to hear mom play. I've been listening to her practice and think she will do just fine. We'll try to get some photos and share them with you tomorrow!
Gotta zoom!
Ricky