Thursday, October 30, 2008

Fall is here

Fall is here! We had our first major freeze last night and the leaves are really starting to come down now. Some of mom's flowers survived since they are close to the house. But the cana lillies froze, so mom dug them out today to save them for next year.
Yesterday we went to agility practice at the club. We set up a pretty fun course that was really 3 sequences - some of the people there are in a distance class, so they wanted to work on stuff from their last class. We set up three jumps and then a tunnel and then three jumps coming out of the tunnel. The idea was to be on the outside of a row of jumps and send your dog into the tunnel and then over the other row of jumps. Lots of dogs had trouble - they would come out of the tunnel and then cut back to their mom or dad instead of staying away and doing the jumps in front of them. We didn't really try the distance part. But I did the row of jumps and then the tunnel and then mom was in the middle of the rows of jumps but kind of as far away as she could be and I did the other row. We also practiced jump to weaves and then jump and back into weaves. My weaves were slow but I was consistent with entries. The third little sequence was tire, teeter, table and aframe. For distance, you send the dog to the table. Mom and I actually worked on that in our backyard today. I am a little reluctant to go on to the table when mom is behind me. When she stops her forward motion, I do too.
Tonight is our first class of the new session of beginning intermediate agility. Boy, I wish this class had a shorter name because I get tired typing it in every time!! Maybe I should just start calling it agility class! Any way we are excited to try again and see if we have made any progress. We'll let you know how it goes!
Gotta zoom!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Party at Wilson's

Well, yesterday we went to visit my cousin Wilson and to celebrate my nephew's and my dad's birthdays! We first drove to Grandpa and Grandma's and we all piled into their car. And then we made the trip to Wilson's. When we got there, I couldn't believe there were so many people all in one house! 18 people - ranging in age from 3 to 69! It was the biggest group I had ever been in and the most kids - I only knew my niece and nephew - and there were lots more kids there. But I did a great job - let everybody pet me and admire me. Poor Wilson and Sandy were banished to the backyard for most of the day. But since I am a little guy, I got to stay inside with everybody.

Wilson and I did get to play outside together but we couldn't chase the ball much because my aunt had planted new grass in the yard and she didn't want us to tear it up (well, I wouldn't with my dainty feet, but Wilson is another story!) Dad got some photos of us - we make a handsome pair!

I was soooo tired when we finally got home! Birthdays and visits and 18 people are exhausting!!!
Gotta zoom!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Another metro park pet trail

Grandma complained to me today that I haven't blogged anything in awhile - sorry Grandma! We have been busy with our usual stuff - walks, lessons, agility practice, etc. We tried to get some good photos of me with some pumpkins the other day - but none of them turned out good enough to post. So yesterday we went to one of the pet trails we like - this one is 3.5 miles long and goes through some woods and then around several prairie/meadows and then loops back. It's one of my favorite walks! I am happiest when I can be out ahead of mom and dad but I'm really good about turning around and checking in.

Behind me is a big woods and ravine - it is so pretty in the fall!

Here I am leading the way:

Here I am waiting for the slow pokes to catch up!

Hope everybody has a wonderful weekend!! I'll be going to visit my cousin Wilson so will try to get dad to take some photos that I can share when we get back!
Gotta zoom!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Beginning Intermediate Agility Class 7

We had our 7th and last class of this session last night! It was pretty fun....there was an entire agility course set up that we got to run in the second half of the class. For the first half we were split up into two groups and essentially learned to run the course - the instructors pointed out little things and we got a chance to practice. I started out slow for some reason. Mom tried to get me into it, but I was not feeling very confident. The aframe was higher than it used to be - it was almost up to full height. I really had to struggle to get up it and then coming down, it was so steep that I was jumping from near the top of the contact zone! So we will need lots more practice with the higher aframe. Also the teeter was nearly full height - but I am happy to report that I went over it without anyone holding it or slowing it down. It went bang when it hit the ground and I just did my 2o2o like a pro!

The course was pretty easy from a handling view point - pretty much straight line. It started with a lead out (mom needs to remember to set me up so I can see as much of the course as possible - she set me up pretty straight in front of the jump and she should've set me up at an angle so that I could see that I would be turning right after the jump and going to the tunnel), then jump and right turn into a long tunnel, then jump, and right turn onto the teeter, then black tunnel (I did the black tunnel in practice, but when we ran the course, I wouldn't go in the first time - mom brought me back around and then I went in), dogwalk (probably my fastest one yet and a good 2o2o), tunnel, then right turn to table (awesome down and wait!), then weaves, then left turn to a pinwheel made up of tire, jump, jump, then front cross to the aframe (when we ran, mom didn't do a front cross, she just kept me on her right and sent me up the frame at an angle - we didn't realize that was dangerous. The instructor stopped us and told the entire class that we should make a very straight path for the dogs to get on the aframe so that no dogs would jump off - important thing to think about! So we redid the pinwheel and then mom did the front cross and sent me straight up the aframe -I got up and over the aframe real well even though it was high), then she did a forbidden blind cross (our instructors don't like blind crosses and mom does them without thinking!) after the aframe and sent me into the chute (I am SLOWLY making a little progress with the chute - I still won't just run through it, but I will go if it is lifted just a little bit), then left turn, jump, and jump. That was it!

We have next week off from the class and then the next session starts the week after. We're excited even though we are going to repeat the same class level because we think there is still so much we can learn in this class and from these instructors. Today we have had two short backyard practices - and I have been on fire!!! We did a pinwheels and then teeters making sure I went straight onto the teeter, and some serpentines, and weaves, of course. Too bad mom didn't have her video camera on me - I did my fastest weaves to date! Dad saw them from the kitchen window and he couldn't believe it. Now if I could just be that fast in class....

Gotta zoom!


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cross paws

Mom and I love this video that shows how to train a dog to cross his paws! We have been working on this trick since we watched the video, and I can do it!! We used a small square of yellow paper as the item that I first learned to touch. And since we don't do clicker training, mom would say "yes" whenever I touched the paper. It took awhile for me to get the idea. But now she can just say "cross" and I cross my left foot over my right. Guess now I'll have to learn how to cross the right over the left? Any way, hopefully Emily won't mind our posting her video. She does amazing stuff with her dogs Kiko and Splash! We love to learn tricks and Emily is a real inspiration!

Gotta zoom!


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Photos from a great walk

Last Friday we went to a new pet trail - it was awesome! The trail goes down through woods and then along the creek and then back up and out into a grassy prairie. We had the place all to ourselves. Couldn't have asked for a more perfect day!

Gotta zoom!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Beginning intermediate agility class 6

Wow - this week has just flown by and I realize I have really been neglecting my blog! Sorry! But I am happy to report that tonight's class was our best one so far! I am getting used to the building and the sights and sounds and people and dogs. Plus going to the club on Wednesday mornings to practice on their equipment is really helping my confidence.

Tonight we started with jumps. Mom was still confused on exactly what a lead-out push is and on how to do it. She asked a lot of questions and thinks maybe she finally gets it. I wait on one side of the jump. She goes to the landing side and faces me with her shoulders toward me and her inside arm toward me but her outside leg points in the direction she is going to go. (Is that right?) Then she can stand still close to the jump and call me over the jump for true collection or she can call me over the jump and start moving in the direction she wants me to go. Or she can lead out farther from the jump and closer to the obstacle we are going to and show me the direction to go. Make sense?

Next was weaves and table. My weaves were faster - even with a wire on for the entry. Luckily I am not bothered by the wire any more. We also practiced fast sits or downs on the table. Mom had been rewarding me when I got released from the table, but the instructor suggested she reward me when I am on the table and then the release is another reward in itself. So we'll try that. Right now I have an awesome wait on the table. Mom could walk all over and I don't get up. However don't know what I might do once I get faster and more confident!

Then it was on to teeter, pinwheel and tunnel. I went across the teeter much faster than last class, but I can't say I am racing across it or anything! We did pretty well with the pinwheel - we practice those at home some. Mom needs to figure out just how far into and out of the pocket she can go and still give me good directions. And my tunnels were good!

Finally we did contacts. Tonight we did some fancy stuff. First practiced discrimination again between tunnel and dogwalk. Then we did some longer sequences like tunnel, aframe, front cross, tunnel, tight turn and right up onto the dogwalk. We did jump, jump, dog walk, tunnel, aframe. Any way it's hard to describe but it was fun. And it's cool that we practice stuff in class that is much harder than the novice course stuff that we will see at our first trial.

So we're pretty excited about how well we did and are starting to really look forward to the next class!

Gotta zoom!


Friday, October 3, 2008

Beginning intermediate agility class 5

I am happy to report that class 5 of beginning intermediate agility went well last night! I think going to the open practice on Wednesday really helped both me and mom be more confident! We arrived early again last night (only way to beat the traffic) and so we had plenty of time to warm up. Mom tried to get me to play tug - I managed to be slightly interested in my sock toy that I love when I'm at home but am too stressed out to play with at class. We are going to keep trying to get me to tug every week. We also did some pre-class weaves to have more experience with using the wires. It's going better each time - but I still don't see the point of having wires for me!

My first area during class was jumps. We practiced table and jumps and a sequence using the tire and a front cross close to the tire. Mom needed to make me turn tighter after the tire so she learned how to move to accomplish that.

Next we went to the weaves and jumps. My weaves are getting better - I am still way faster at home with my stick-in-the-ground poles and no distractions. We also did some straight line jumping to work on my speed (or lack thereof).

Then we went to the teeter and chute area. The first time I approached the teeter, I refused to go up. Mom didn't let me get away with that and put my slip lead on and then I went across willingly. Next time I wasn't fast but I did it on my own. The teeter at class and the one at the club are a lot bigger and heavier than the one I have at home and I am still getting used to how fast they tip and how LOUD they are when they hit the ground! I am making slow progress on the chute - I go in the barrel and don't come back out, but I wait to see mom peek through the end and then I go through even when she lets the material fall down on me. I know I am being goofy - but I will get it eventually.

Lastly we did the contacts. This week the tunnel was under the aframe. That didn't scare me like the tunnel under the dogwalk did. We practiced jump, double jump and either sending into the tunnel or over the aframe. My aframes were much faster after my practice at the club. Now mom is going to work on keeping her shoulders straight and her arm out and then lowering her arm as I go down into the contact area. In general mom needs to think more about the position of her shoulders and about where she is looking. If she gives me good cues, I can definitely follow her.

Our instructor said that I did better last night and seemed more confident and mom seemed more relaxed. Hopefully we are headed in a good direction now. This morning we did some practice in the backyard - the jump sequence from last night with the front cross, some weaves and teeter. It went very well! We have also started to get serious about practicing a start line ritual. Now that the weather has cooled off, we hope to get in lots of practicing before winter. I like agility a lot more when it's cool outside!

Gotta zoom!


Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Boy it feels like fall outside today - great weather if you're a Sheltie! I have so much more energy now. Mom is a little sad because she's not ready for summer to be over, but me, I can't wait for snow!

A couple days ago mom took me to the park that has the walking path around the big lake. I like going there because mom let's me drag the long line when we are on the far side of the lake. Then I get to run ahead of mom and sniff, etc. It's really fun. We were having a great time until we were close to the end of the loop - mom was holding my leash and making me walk next to her - and we saw up ahead a medium-sized black dog (possibly a portuguese water dog or a labradoodle or something) off-leash but close to his owner. Mom was thinking that since the dog was off-leash, the owner probably had some control over him and that he was probably a friendly dog. Well, as we got closer, the dog was not listening to the owner (when mom heard the lady repeat her commands to her dog she should've known that the dog was not under control). Any way, that dog came over and growled and tried to jump on top of me. Mom moved me away and the owner made a feeble attempt to get her dog under control and he lunged at me again! Mom swooped me up into her arms and the lady was like "sorry". Mom was really mad but she only said, "You mean you have your dog off-leash when he's that aggressive?" The owner said, "he usually isn't." Right, like little old me made him want to kill some body. Well I wasn't hurt and hopefully won't hold a grudge against black dogs! Plus mom won't be so trusting next time (although she still doesn't want to overreact every time a dog is nearby - that isn't good either).

Later that same day, one of dad's student's moms brought over the latest edition to their family - an adorable 14-week-old Australian Shepherd puppy. Mom thought he was so cute! I thought he was a big stupid puppy and why was he in my yard? Fortunately he was kept on a leash for most of the time so that he couldn't trample me out of enthusiasm. I actually had to growl at him and show my teeth to let him know who was the boss. I had never done that before (but I was still a little shaken up by my dog encounter at the lake.)

Today we went to open agility practice at the club where we are members but where we are not currently taking classes. My trainer Deb paved the way for us to get to go - and it was so much fun! The other people training there on Wednesday mornings are really nice (Deb is there too - you know how much I love her!). We each get five minutes to practice on the course by ourselves - we can practice anything we want. Then after everybody goes, you get another turn. Five minutes doesn't sound like a lot of time but it is plenty. Mom was huffing and puffing after running around for that short a time! We worked on aframe (I was flying over it - compared to what I have been doing in class lately). And the tunnel was under the aframe, so we got to work on a little discrimination. I also tried the teeter there - man, it makes the loudest bang I've ever heard when it goes down. I didn't like that but I think I can get used to it. My weaves were slow today but my jumps were good. I did some lead-outs and Deb says I "come to the hand" really well! All I know is I had FUN doing agility today! We are going to try to go every Wednesday morning now.

Dad had his camera out again and took some photos of me playing with my big red ball this afternoon. So we thought we'd share them with you! I'm practicing my "ugly face" in the first photo! I push that ball all over the backyard!

Gotta zoom!