Thursday, October 29, 2009

Last night's agility class

So after all our hard work at making agility fun and fast, I went to class last night and poked around and sniffed every darn leaf on the floor because I was SURE it was food. I kind of did the agility sequences but I was very distracted. Mom tried not to let me know, but I could tell she was frustrated and also disappointed in me. She wants to know how long it's going to take before I am consistently faster and happier and focused doing agility out in the world like I am in my own backyard!

Seriously though, in this re-creation of the floor from class, can you spot the food versus not food:

In my defense, it's not that easy to tell is it? You can see my dilemma then at class! And the leaves looked just like the one in the photo! So I ate the food to show you which was which:

Gotta zoom (mom says I should change this to "gotta sniff" but I think that just plain mean!)


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

New series of old videos

Mom and I want to start something new - we have been going back and watching some of my puppy videos and editing them into smaller clips - and we want to share them with you from time to time when nothing else terribly exciting is going on. But we need a name for this - maybe Sara (she comes up with stuff all the time like "then and now" or "everyday life series") or Ludo (who of course came up with Tricky T-Day, etc.) can think of a name? Or can anyone else? And we'd like it if other's joined in the new series - we would love to see videos of puppies doing puppy stuff. This might help mom's puppy-itis or it might make it worse (hopefully not)!

So here is the first installment! I see a comb for the first time in my young life - I was only 8 1/2 weeks old and weighed around 4 lbs. I think I was very brave!

Gotta zoom!


Monday, October 26, 2009

Agility for fun in the leaves!

Lately when we practice agility in the backyard it's for fun and speed! Mom puts out my food target for the first few jumps and then she takes it away. I know I still look slow in the video, but I swear I am running faster (if you were here, you would see it!).

Gotta zoom!


Sunday, October 25, 2009

My Neighborhood

The trees in our neighborhood are absolutely gorgeous this year! So mom brought her camera along when we went for our walk this morning - here are our attempts at trying to get photos of the beautiful fall colors right outside our door!

The photos just don't do it all justice - every where you look there is another spectacular display. Unfortunately it doesn't last long. Yesterday's wind brought a lot of leaves down and soon you won't be able to see the yards, sidewalks or streets because they'll be completely covered with fallen leaves. But for now it's like a fantasy land!

Gotta zoom!


Friday, October 23, 2009

My visit with Wilson

I had a good time visiting my cousin Wilson on Wednesday and Thursday of this week! Mom and I left early and drove two hours to Wilson's house. We wanted to get there early to make the most of the day - the weather was beautiful - sunny and 70. After all the cold and rain, we were all really happy to be outside!

First of all aunt Laura took us to a new park with some very good trails that go through the woods and around ponds. Silly mom forgot her camera! After that we went home and had lunch outside on the patio. Here I am pretending to chill on the patio:

Then we headed off to another park. This one I had been to several times but we always have fun there. The only problem is the trail around the lake starts off next to a busy road. Even though I saw that Wilson didn't care about the cars, I still had a hard time not barking at them and lunging at them. Mom doesn't have fun at this park until we get well away from the road.
Here are my aunt and Wilson getting ready to go:

Mom made me and Wilson pose (I think aunt Laura said something to us about treats and Wilson totally fell for it!):

Another forced pose:

Wilson has a big tongue:

The weather was so nice that Wilson got a bath (I would laugh but mom made me get a bath on Tuesday so I really knew how he felt):

My cousin Jeff turns 11 today and we celebrated with him on Wednesday. He had an all Wii birthday!

My cousin Meredith (she's 8) just got her braces off:

Wilson and I like each other but we're guys and don't want to show it:

We went for a walk at the park with the lake on Thursday morning too. Then after lunch mom and I drove back home. I was exhausted. I like to go there to visit but I never really relax when I am around Wilson. Oh, I almost forgot, - Wilson hurt his foot - he ripped his dew claw - and so he and I couldn't play our game of fetch where he runs to get the ball and I run after him and bark like a maniac. That's our favorite thing to do together. Maybe next time.

Thanks aunt Laura and Wilson for such a good visit!

Gotta zoom,


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Autumn Walk

Mom and dad took me to my favorite metro park yesterday for a walk and a chance to see some fall foliage! The sky was blue and the sun was warm! Don't get too excited about these pictures though. They're not very good!

Tomorrow I am going to visit my cousin Wilson! I saw him a few times over the summer when he was at grandma and grandpa's, but I haven't been to his house in a long time. I don't think I told you but we lost my cousin Sandy very unexpectedly in June. She and Wilson were visiting at my grandparents' and Sandy collapsed! My aunt and uncle took her to the emergency vet right away and the vet said it was cancer and that they probably couldn't get her stabilized enough for surgery and if they could, surgery would not prolong her life for long. So Sandy crossed over the bridge that very afternoon. It was so sad and shocking that I couldn't write about it at the time. So when we visit Wilson tomorrow, it will be our first time there without Sandy and we will really miss her!

Gotta zoom!


Saturday, October 17, 2009


We had a great day yesterday! Grandma got here about 7:30 and we left. It only took a little over an hour to get to the trial site - not a bad drive at all. Of course, grandma and mom talked the whole way and kept me awake! This trial was held at a fieldhouse/fitness center. The standard ring was in one room and the jumpers ring was in another (so it made for a quieter atmosphere). I ran my Open JWW run first at 10:00AM. We didn't get a video of it (sorry) but the course map is below. Mom liked the course because she could do a lot of front crosses and keep me motivated. As a matter of fact, she was a front-crossing fool! She did a FC between #2 and #3, #5 and #6, #7 and #8, and #12 and #13! (Click to bigify so you can see what we're talking about!) But it worked! I ran fast and happy! Mom was completely winded when we finished - she's a wimp! Standard course time (SCT) was 44 and my time was 37.22. I ended up Q'ing and getting first place and getting my Open title!! Hurray on to EX A JWW!

Ok, then the big wait! Mom had high hopes that this would be a short trialing day but we waited 4 1/2 hours for our STD run! Grandma was good company though and we also talked to some of our agility friends. And it was cool in the building (cold mom says) which helped me out a lot. I had a little nap in the car but spent most of my time just hanging with mom and grandma. Finally it was my turn to run again! We got video this time but we're also including the course map. Having a couple jumps at the beginning and then a tunnel was good for me to get going. Mom made sure she slowed down and got me on the aframe (no sniffing!) and then I strutted very proudly over the dogwalk (I love the dogwalk now!) and also sat proudly on the table (also no sniffing!). Then mom got very animated and sent me into the chute (I did my fastest-ever-at-a-trial chute!) and then fast-for-me weaves and then mom was worried about the tunnel/DW discrimination so she slowed down to make sure I went into the tunnel and then we were home free!

So I got my first Open STD Q and placed 2nd! SCT was 77 and my time was 64:43 - well under SCT! Yay!! I had a really fun time doing agility with mom yesterday. Seems like our hard work is starting to pay off!

Here I am in the obligatory pose with the ribbons and toys. Mom loved the green title ribbon and I loved the toys!

Gotta zoom!


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wednesday class, cold weather, tRicky T-Day, and a Friday trial

What happened to October - blue skies, pretty leaves, indian summer, dry air? We have skipped October this year and gone straight to November - rainy, cold, windy, gray. I don't mind it that much although we don't go outside like we used to. But mom is whining about the bad weather all day long!

Last night we went to our Wednesday agility class (we missed last week because mom had to rehearse Beethoven #9 - whatever that means). We ran a full course last night - and it included the chute which is always very good practice for me. Since our last real post we have been practicing with the target and getting me to take off at the start. And we have been practicing short sequences (three or four obstacles). Mom is trying to keep practices short and fun and not daily and she tries not to let me know I did anything wrong (that's the hardest thing for her - she STILL catches herself making me redo something from time to time)! It seems to have paid off because I ran pretty fast and happy last night. I even did my fastest away- from- home chute! By the end of the course, mom forgot where she was supposed to go but we just kept running fast and she let me do whatever jumps I wanted. I was super excited when we finished and I got lots of chicken to prove how well I did!

After the run-thru we split up into two groups and did smaller portions of the course. I was still happy until my second-to- last go - I came out of a tunnel really fast and caught sight of another dog out of the corner of my eye. I took my mind off what I was doing for a second and flew at a jump and slipped and knocked the bar. It spooked me a little - mom checked to see that I was ok and then put me back in the tunnel and I finished the sequence. Then when we tried our last little exercise, I refused the aframe and mom stopped me and had me do it again (see, I told you she forgets and makes me redo stuff!!!) I did it the second time. But mom, always the worrier, is hoping that getting spooked won't have a lasting effect on me.

Today is tRicky T-Day so we put together a little video showing my new cane tricks! And there is bonus footage of my stand in the corner trick - mom stands farther away from me now and just says, "Corner" and off I go. We are trying to generalize the behavior to other corners but it's not working yet!

Tomorrow we are traveling a little more than an hour to a trial at a new location for us. It's another artificial turf surface place. Since the barn where we used to trial is still not usable, we are forced to seek out other opportunities. Well, an hour is not a very long drive. Grandma is going to go with us to keep mom company. She has never been to an agility trial but she loves dogs and we think she's going to have a great time! The schedule looks good for us too - I run my Open JWW at 10:00 and then just have to wait for Open STD but we think I may get to run that around noon. That would be great!! So our goal for tomorrow is to blast off from the start line and to run happy (with no sniffing before obstacles!!).

Gotta zoom!


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

We're still here

Here I am when I was young and barky (now I'm older and barky)!

Sorry we haven't been posting but we will soon! Lack of inspiration, I guess.....

Gotta zoom!


Monday, October 5, 2009

Still looking for answers

These days mom has really been pondering the question of how to make me a faster agility dog. After my slow starts at our last trial and then a pretty slow and ho-hum class last Wednesday, mom is looking for advice! Seems like the magic meatballs are not so magic any more. Don't get me wrong - I still like them! But they don't always motivate me. I am super fast when mom gets me to lose my mind. I don't do that very often when I know it's time to do agility because I treat agility like a job that I should do and do correctly. That's just the way I am! So mom experiments with trying to get me to do tricks before a sequence (or even just a jump) but I won't do it because it's time for agility. Or she tries to get me to tug and I won't - same reason.

Then mom started thinking about things that excite me (mail, paper towels, keys) and she made a toy out of rolled up paper. I had never seen such a thing and got so excited we practiced for awhile without treats and with me going very fast to "get the paper"! When mom tried to use treats and the paper, I wouldn't have anything to do with the paper.

Yesterday mom found some articles about agility online at Front and Finish (THE obedience magazine like CleanRun is THE agility magazine). She read a couple about speeding up dogs. Here is an excerpt about using a target to teach a dog to blast-off from the start line (please forgive the informal method of quoting and giving credit to the source - it's been a long time since senior english class):

"If you decide that running with your dog from the start line is best, then
train your dog for a blast-off start. The best way to do this is by
using a target. Place a target, such as a plastic lid, in front of
your dog. Put a treat on the target and hold the dog back until
he is squirming to get free and pick up the treat. Give your dog
a take-off command such as "Ready, set, go!". Release your dog
and let him eat the treat from the target. Gradually increase
the distance that your dog must travel to get the target. Always
restrain him until he is really struggling to get free before you
give him the take-off command and release him. This will teach
your dog to blast off with a fast start on your command."

from Speeding Things Up - A Success Story by Webb and Leslie Anderson published in the February 2000 issue of Front and Finish.

We thought this sounded like a great idea and tried it for the first time today. Mom put a target with a little piece of chicken on it about two feet away from me and held me back and said, "Reeeaaadddyyyy, go!" And I got the chicken - what an easy and fun game! Mom found out that I didn't like to be held back and would wait next to her until she finally said, "GO!" We increased the distance to the target and eventually added jumps one at a time until I did three jumps really fast on my way to the target. We're going to try this some more and in different places and with some other obstacles and see how it goes.

Mom also read another article called Agility and the Small Dog - Speed Challenged Agility Dogs by Gerianne F. Darnell from the October 2000 issue of Front and Finish and the author told this story:

"A few years ago I had the good fortune of walking out of a ring and
having Linda Mecklinberg talk to me for about 15 minutes
about my slow dog. I will always be grateful for this talk,
because it forever changed the way I looked at a course. Linda
told me that I would often need to run a course like nobody else
would run it. I would have to find "unnecessary" places to cross
in front of my dog, in order to keep him moving. She said somebody
might watch me run a course and say "Now, why in the
heck would she do that?" but that I had to forget about what
other people thought, and do what my DOG needed me to do.
She said I had to constantly be looking for a half second here,
and a second there, and that if enough of those seconds added
up, my dog could make time in excellent jumpers. For example,
she told me to meet my dog at the end of the chute and turn
him immediately to the next obstacle, don’t wait for him to
come out to tell him where to go next. He should know before
he comes out of the chute what I want him to do."

Now one of our instructors had already given us this advice, and we actually ran our jumpers run the other day with this in mind, but it was good to hear someone else talk about running a course like no one else would.

Any way, we just wanted to share these thoughts and also keep track of them for ourselves. It's been a long time since I posted something without pictures or video! I have made progress on my stand in the corner trick, so I'll try to get mom to make a vid to show it off!

Gotta zoom!