Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

To me! Ricky TUGGED with the bunny tonight! I wish I had video but you really don't need to see me running around the living room or hear me chanting encouragement. Just picture Ricky playing where's the bunny and finally grabbing hold and not letting go!

Hope you all have a safe and happy new year! 2014 is gonna be an exciting one!

Chris and Ricky

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Food Play

We are working on food play in the play class now. Very fun! Ricky loves it of course. 

It's not just like doing a trick for food - it involves games that get the dog's prey drive into high gear. Today we played a game where I throw a piece of food in one direction, he runs to get it, and then I call him and throw in the opposite direction. Ricky was really moving to get that food. There are other games as well - have him chase me to get the food, hide food around you and have him find it, and a few others. 

The cool thing today was Ricky's excitement about the food game lead to a game of where's the bunny! However, Ricky thinks the game is that he finds the bunny, doesn't tug, I snatch it up and say the bunny got away, and he starts looking again. Shelties - they just have to make up their own rules! :)

Chris and Ricky

Saturday, December 28, 2013


So the last post with Merry Christmas was supposed to include Ricky's Christmas video for anyone not on FB with me! Haha! I didn't realize until yesterday that all I said was Merry Christmas. Pretty minimalistic even for me!

Hope everyone had a good time this week!

Chris and Ricky

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

Toy Play with Bunny Fur

Diana suggested I try a toy with real rabbit fur to see if Ricky would like it more. So I got a couple of rabbit tugs from Clean Run last week when they had a buy one, get one sale.

Ricky is not sure what to make of the bunny. He carefully smelled it and by the second time he saw it, he was getting pretty excited. But he still seems too respectful of the bunny and doesn't bite down hard on the fur. The video is from his third time seeing it - I did edit it down because you don't need to see or hear 3 minutes of me being ridiculous. This video is plenty long. :)


He really likes it when the bunny gets away.

I can't believe how out of breath I get playing for 3 minutes!

Chris and Ricky

Friday, December 20, 2013

You Decide

The snow that has been on the ground here since before Thanksgiving has finally melted. I went out to rake a few leaves, and Ricky all-out herded the rake non-stop for at least 15 minutes. He got so tired he had to quit all by himself. 

Then when I vacuumed just now, he was too worn out to herd the sweeper.

Genius or bad bad trainer?

Is rake herding toy play or personal play?


Chris and Ricky

Monday, December 16, 2013


I did get some personal play on video! This was the second good session we had today. I edited out about a minute of trying to get Ricky involved. It was 3:00 PM and he was already thinking about his dinnertime. So he would come to me and make a play move and then take off in the direction of the kitchen. Haha! But he finally gave in and had a good time!

I had just too much fun!

Chris and Ricky

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Adding Personal Play

This week we added the element of personal play to our play class. You know playing with your dog with just yourself - no toys or food. This is the play that I really want to develop because you can use it in the ring - like at the startline. Ricky has always enjoyed games with my hands and fingers - much like a cat would. But he also likes claw hand and bitey face. I don't have video yet but we have been trying different things at different times of the day. Very fun! Toy play is at about the same level as last week.

I am excited watching the gold level students' videos and reading Denise's advice. She is so positive and knows so much about dogs and their body language and how we can better relate to them. Seriously enjoying this course!

Chris and Ricky

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Last agility class of 2013

We went to our last class of the year yesterday morning. It had unexpectedly snowed the night before and the roads were a mess! No snow removal and tons of traffic. It took twice as long to get there as usual and it was a very stressful drive.

But I am glad we went. For the past few months I have been taking two classes back to back. I run my instructor's Sheltie Salsa in one and Ricky in another. Salsa is a pro - she is 9 years old and MACH 9. She teaches me how to do agility and I give her treats. :)

These days Ricky does the contacts and weaves class. I think this is perfect for him because the drills are shorter and there are not many jumps. Yesterday I really thought about "food play" from my play class and changed the way I reward him more into a game. I think he responded very well! He was definitely engaged for most of the class (except for the times he thought something on the floor was chicken and not fur or fuzz). He DID NOT want to go in his crate when his class was over.

Salsa is a trip! She would do agility all day long if she could and she barks at me when I am slow or she wants her turn or she wants some food or....well you get it. I am learning so much with her because of course my timing stinks. And I have trouble thinking. Haha! One day I hope to run her at a trial but I need much more practice first! Running Salsa is making me love agility again.

Toy play continues - yesterday we only had one session but Ricky got into the game very quickly. I was so excited that I didn't end the game soon enough and he beat me to it. :)

Chris and Ricky

Monday, December 9, 2013

Toy Play Day 3

Here is a video of today's first toy play session. Similar to the first try yesterday.

What did I do to turn him off right at the beginning? - he was obviously interested - and then it took over a minute to get him back. I was breathing hard by the time the 3 minutes was over. The video was only supposed to be 2 minutes in length, but it took so long to get him really engaged. This is still progress in the right direction since playing was entirely my idea!

Chris and Ricky

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Toy play update

This morning I took my raccoon, or squirrel as I sometimes call it, and ran around the living room like a crazy person pretending to be loving playing all by myself. Ricky stood there looking at me for a long time and then he finally decided to play too! This is huge because I initiated the play time. He has always tugged and played and enjoyed toys on long lines but ONLY when it was his idea! He chased the toy and tugged with it. I think in past attempts to get him to play, I was not patient enough and gave up too early.

This afternoon we played again on my terms - the same game but he got involved in the action much more quickly.

Please don't feel like you have to read or comment - I like it if you do - but I am just trying to keep a record of our progress in the class and daily accounts are probably boring. :)

Chris and Ricky

Friday, December 6, 2013

Trying new ideas

I am being bombarded with ideas from this play class! It is a little overwhelming - I don't know how the people in the Gold level are doing it all.

This week is toy play and you know how great I am at that with Ricky. Today, just once so far, I got him a little interested in his raccoon toy (you know the kind without the stuffing). I put it on the end of a rope and when he would go for it, I snatched it away. Tried this a few times and he wanted the toy! So we quit and will try again later. I guess the idea is it's the chase they love.

The other thing I am trying is to be much more energetic when using food to do tricks and stuff - all behaviors he already knows. I am stringing more together and moving around more and throwing the food for him to get it. We did this last night and today and so far it is working really well!

The internet is such an amazing tool and resource!

Chris and Ricky

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Our baseline video for the play class

This morning I didn't get Ricky jazzed up at all (not that I can), but I made a baseline video of his toy play, personal play and food play. He wouldn't interact with me at all except with food. I expected this. Then when attempting to download the vids to my computer, I accidentally erased them. Stupid.

This afternoon, I made another attempt. I cut up some cheese to use in the food play part. I left it downstairs and brought Ricky upstairs to make the new video. I got better results this time because he thought I had cheese. When he retrieves the glove in the toy play section, he does it because he is conditioned to get a treat reward for that. He will play with toys usually only if it is his idea. And he ends the game when he wants to. He barely does any personal play in the video. He loves games with my hands or fingers - he likes to bite at them and basically play cat-like games. Again only when he feels like it. And then of course, he is all about food and loves that part so much.

I really have no idea how to engage Ricky in play without food.

I am so excited to see what I learn in the next 6 weeks!

Chris and Ricky

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

How to make videos

It used to be so easy - Flip camera on the tripod. Then the Flip software stopped working for me and I could not download a new version. Enter the iPod touch. Easy to use for making videos but is not tripod friendly. So I stopped making them. Today I tried my old Fuji digital camera. Here is what I got - crappy video quality but a super cute dog!

I need to figure something out so that I can make my baseline video for the play class!

Chris and Ricky

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Hello out there? Can anybody hear me?

Ricky and I are coming back to blogging! Kathy and Cricket encouraged us to sign up at the Bronze level for Denise Fenzi's Relationship Building Through Play class and it started today! So I think we are going to have something to blog about. Wow, I know.

I trained Ricky completely with food. He learns quickly and easily with food and I didn't know any better when I got him. I am so interested in seeing if I can ever get him to accept a toy as a reward but we have a long long way to go. He will not play with toys unless it is his own idea. Same thing with just playing with me - if he wants to, he will. But he starts and ends the game. I am sure Denise will have lots of advice to give and skills to teach us.

Kathy and Cricket posted a video of Cricket backing up stairs the other day so I made a video of Ricky doing the same. He has gotten better at this over the years. However he can go much faster than he did in this video. Does he use his rear legs? It's hard for me to tell.

We have been enjoying agility class a lot! I am running one of my instructor's Shelties in a second class each week and I am loving that! But that's another story. Here's hoping I can get busy and do some training and keep writing about it!

Chris and Ricky

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Test your dog

A little exercise from class today:

Put your dog on a stay 18' behind a jump. Walk up to the upright close enough to reach out and touch it. With shoulders facing forward, look at your dog and release him. You start moving laterally after the O in "Ok". Tell your dog to jump - or in my case - jumpjumpjumpjumpjumpjump - while continuing to move laterally but keeping your shoulders forward until the dog commits to the jump.

We got two tries. First time I didn't repeat "jump" and Ricky came with me. The second time I kept chanting "jump" and he did! 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Six years

Our class was cancelled this week so we went to our favorite park this morning instead. It was already hot but we enjoyed it. We went to the prairie area which is gorgeous right now - cup flower, wild bergamot, echinacea, cardinal flower, queen of the prairie, coneflower, etc. All blooming up a storm. To get there we had to walk on the bikepath for a little stretch.

Ricky heeled off leash with me while a bicyclist rode by!

Six years in the making!

Never give up!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Straight tunnels

Class this week - straight tunnels. They are turning obstacles so you need to show your dog which way to turn coming out of the tunnel before they go in! I like them. We also did straight tunnels as part of a serpentine. Some dogs did not like that at all. Serpentines of any kind are a trained skill. So if your dog has trouble with them, there is no solution other than practicing them! :)

SUPER humid in the training building. Running the outside path is NOT fun when it is so hot. Thank you Ricky for making me work so hard! But he almost outran me and that was fun!!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Tool box

That is what you need to be a successful handler - lots of tools to chose from and the ability to pull them out on the fly. Class today was about comparing rear crosses vs. front crosses. It is interesting to see each dog and handler and what works best for them. Some never use rears and some never fronts. But a problem could present itself on a course that might force you into doing something you are not as comfortable with and that's where the tool box comes in. That's why we practice all the different skills.

With Ricky, I do mostly fronts or run the long way around or blinds. We know rear crosses and he reads them pretty well, and if he is moving, I can throw one in. Today I tried to handle a simple jump sequence by running the short path and he wasn't moving so I took him back and ran the long path. My teacher pointed out a place I could've changed to the outside without stopping him and to get him motivated. True. You can't stop at a trial.

Another thing I want to work on is supporting the obstacle and using eye contact. By now I sometimes assume Ricky will take an obstacle because it is the next one. Not if I don't make a point of supporting it. Also, he likes to do his own thing ( yay! ). I have to make an effort to look him in the eye and say his name even, to pull him off a path to an obstacle that he has chosen! Gotta fight the "Sheltie knows best" syndrome! :)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Keep moving forward

Class today was about forward motion front crosses which are way better for me and Ricky than rear crosses. However, my problem continues to be that I get too far ahead of Ricky. So in one case, I was already rotated and finished with my FC before Ricky even got to the jump, and I presented him with complete collection cues. This does not work for my sensitive boy - he basically comes to a dead stop before jumping. I was told to try again and to send him to the jump and keep moving and this helped to motivate him a lot.

I watch the demonstrations of the "right" way to handle a sequence, but most of the time the "right" way doesn't apply to my team. My instructor has offered to let me run one of her dogs in class but I want to do agility with Ricky. So when will I finally get it in my head that I have to make my own handling decisions (often on the fly) to do what works best for us? I am lucky to have a teacher who will help me to look for those options!

We had fun though! And I really enjoy watching classmates and their dogs who have made significant progress. Class is my escape from reality - hard to think of anything else when doing agility!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Rules were made to be broken

It was a picture perfect day today so we took Ricky to the Alum Creek beach. It is the closest thing we can get to a real beach any where near us. Ricky loves it! For a dog that does not like to swim, he sure enjoys himself every time we take him there. Pets are prohibited on the beach. It is a rule I don't mind breaking considering another rule is "littering is prohibited" and plenty of people seem to be breaking that one. What are people thinking?

Any way, Ricky ran right down to the lake and started biting at the little waves.

He was not sure about the buoy but only barked a couple times.

He loves to run!

He came charging back for a treat of course!

Sandy dirty feet.

He somehow got into some big burrs but was good about having them pulled out.

We had a really good and fun and relaxing time! Hope to get out there again soon!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Rear crossing Ricky

Not an easy task in class. But today was all about rears - at the jump, on the flat, parallel. I understand them and so does Ricky but in class we do forced rears - I slow way down and keep telling him to go ahead and jump. He is more willing to do them at home. For anyone who is working on them, lateral motion into the dog is very important and also keeping your dog-side arm straight out in front of you to send the dog ahead is also important. And timing. Just like all of agility, I guess.

After one sequence with rears, Ricky and I went back to motivational handling (with the blessing of the instructor). I really like that she will encourage me to handle Ricky in ways that are best for us rather than making us stick to the class plan.

Agility handling seems so confusing sometimes. But isn't it really simple in the end? I'm sure I will feel differently one day if I have a super-fast driven dog. :)

Sunday, June 16, 2013


So I have been incredibly lazy and unmotivated these days. Poor Ricky. But when we do train something, he has an extra little spring in his step. He is very enthusiastic. Last night we reviewed retrieving. I put out quite a few objects - plastic ice cream scoop, little bowl, nerf ball, basket, dumbbell, sock, etc. in one room and then go into another room and send Ricky to get items and bring them to me. He loves this. Awesome since it was so difficult to teach him to walk with something in his mouth. :)

Any way, one of the things he retrieves is an old tv remote with the batteries removed. He brought that to me and I said, "Go get another one" and he trotted off. He came back with the little battery compartment cover that had apparently fallen off the remote. It was too cute.

Ricky is such a good boy!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Pretty Poor Park Pictures

From a couple weeks ago:

Gotta zoom!


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Yes we are still taking classes!

We are still taking class every Tuesday morning. I have a really good time - I LOVE dogwalks the most - sometimes I am sort of fast on jumps and tunnels and sometimes pokey.

At home though, I am FAST.

We sort of gave up on the multiple target idea but use them at the end of sequences - usually a thrown piece of chicken.

Mom is supposed to come up with a word or action that will get me jazzed up at the startline. Ideas?

Here is an interesting tidbit - when we first started learning agility and mom had no idea how to move for a front cross or a rear cross, she did a bunch of blind crosses (not knowing what they were). The instructors were all - NOOO - no blinds - keep your eyes on your dog. And nowadays what is all the rage?  - the blind cross! LOL!

Mom says she will help me to write a proper post again one day with video and everything, but I am telling you not to hold your breath!

Gotta zoom!


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Special Visit!

Yesterday Katie's mom and dad came to visit me! They came in the door and I immediately started licking both of them (my dad calls me Licky). Katie's mom said I was so small and she was surprised at how not shy I was. I guess she was prepared to have to be patient and wait for me to come to her, etc.

So the evening was all about me! I licked them, brought tug toy after tug toy to them, tried to steal blueberries and strawberries from them. Whined a little, jumped on them a little - did everything I could think of so they would have to keep all of their attention on ME.

For some weird reason, they went to work with my mom and dad. I took a nap so I would be refreshed and ready to go when they got home. And boy was I ready! But then it got late and the talking just went on and on. I got sleepy and knew that it was way past our bedtime. I was sleeping on mom's lap for awhile and then  I couldn't take it any more and just started whining and whining. It was time for Katie's mom and dad to goooooo!

Finally the moms and dads agreed with me and I got some special good-bye pats. Katie's mom promises to come back some day and bring Katie with her. I think that would be a lot of fun!

Thanks for visiting me!

Gotta zoom!


Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Last Two Weeks of Class

Mom has been busy doing everything but helping me to blog. We have been to two classes since we last wrote about my target. We brought the target to both classes. The first time our teacher suggested that mom cut the target down and make it much smaller and harder to see. She also wanted me to work on driving to the target. Target = Drive. And mom should say "Target" to me.

I was taught to do the agility equipment first and then run to the target. So like weaves to target. I got very confused when all I had to do was go straight to the target. We worked on that and it was so easy once I figured it out.

At the second class, we had my tiny target and for the first time ever, I cheated and went from doing some jumps with mom to skipping straight over to the chicken on the target. Ha! So now I have to learn that if I hear "Target", I can go to it. If I don't hear that word, I should do whatever else it is that mom wants. We did an exercise where my target was on the other side of a jump but I was not supposed to go to it - just jump and go to mom. That did not work at all! I couldn't understand why - if I jumped - I could not go to the chicken. Even if mom had chicken in her hand, it was not as valuable as chicken on the target. I kept trying things - like the DW, or the tunnel, or going to the teacher. Anything EXCEPT going back to mom. Guess what we are to work on for this week? :)

Mom is not sure where all this is going to lead. She always knew that fading the target was necessary. I guess I am supposed to think there could be a target anywhere and keep going fast just in case. I don't know - I am pretty smart and I think I would know if there were a target or not.

To be continued.........

Mom is doing something called The Rite of Spring at work next week and we have to miss our class! I am not happy about it but she needs the money to pay for more of my classes. :)

Gotta zoom!


Thursday, February 28, 2013

Renting the Building

Our agility class has been on a two-week break. So a classmate of ours asked if we would like to rent the training building with her once each week. We said yes! Mom had been thinking for a long time that she wanted to see how I would do in the building with my target plate since I love that at home so much.

It worked wonders! I cannot worry about anything when I know there is chicken sitting on the target waiting for me! Last week mom was totally flabbergasted at my dogwalk and aframe performance! I jumped the apex of the aframe - our classmate asked mom where I learned to do that and mom said that was the first time it ever happened and I learned on my own!

The video is from our practice this week. It's kind of hard to tell but mom is really running!

Class starts again next week and I can't wait!!

Gotta zoom!


Monday, February 18, 2013

Mish Mash Monday

Lots of pretty hemlocks in the park we hiked in last week! Notice I am wearing my "I am not a fox" vest!

Gotta zoom!


Friday, February 15, 2013

Today is my Birthday!

If you are on FB with mom, you already know this. But I turned 6 today! We combined my birthday and Valentine's Day yesterday and went on a hike! We drove about an hour south of here and were expecting partly sunny skies and 50. But we had snow and 35! The snow was very wet and was dropping in big globs off the trees. It seemed like it was raining. And it was windy.

None of that bothered me at all! We did the pet trail and parts of some side trails that don't really allow dogs but no one was around. It was very pretty and very quiet. I loved it!

Dad tried to get some pictures but none of them turned out. Here is one that is passable:

So I didn't get any presents or anything but mom thinks I should give her a present - now that I am 6, she wants me to stop barking at cars. Hmmm......I'll take it into consideration but I can't make any promises!

Gotta zoom!


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Last class for this session

Yesterday was our last class until March. We got to run two courses. I had everyone cheering at the end of my first run! It has been a great experience for both me and mom to go back to agility classes.

A friend asked if we wanted to rent the building with her for an hour next week. I think we are going to and mom says she'll bring my targets! That will be so much fun - I can't wait!

Gotta zoom!


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Can we stay?

We went to our class this morning! Mom warmed me up with a jump and the chute and the teeter. With the promise of chicken at the end, I tipped that big heavy teeter faster than ever before! Chicken is an amazing motivator!

Class started with us working at a single jump on taking the backside of the jump. Funny but yesterday at home we did a little treiball for the first time in a long time. Mom would send me around to the back of the ball and have me push it to her. This translated perfectly to me going around the outside of the wing to the back of the jump.

Little dogs got to run the sequence first. Mom messed me up some but I had fun any way. I got to do my first-ever wall jump too.

When class was over, we went out of the ring to get my harness and stuff. But I didn't want to go. While mom was listening to the teacher, I went back out to the ring and started up the dogwalk. Mom let me finish it and then tried to get me to go with her. I just laid down in the ring and stayed there. Mom walked away but I held fast. I wanted to keep doing agility!

Unfortunately class was really over so I had to leave with mom. I can't wait until next week!

Gotta zoom!


Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Last Tuesday morning it was 6 degrees. This morning it was 60. Ohio weather is very schizophrenic.

We went to class and I don't have much to say. I did alright but wasn't on fire like last week. We did some weave-entry drills and some sequences with special timing of front crosses.

The news of the day is this:

Mom and I went on our usual morning walk in our neighborhood. We were a couple streets over from our house, walking on the sidewalk when we look across the street and see a COYOTE lying in these people's front yard. Dead. But looking like it just fell asleep in the middle of the grass. Now you know, we live in a Columbus city neighborhood with lots of houses and sidewalks, etc. Very out of the ordinary.

Poor coyote. But what the heck do you do with a dead coyote in your yard?

Gotta zoom!


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

This week's class

It was 6 degrees outside when we left for class yesterday! Thank goodness we had something indoors to do.  

To get me warmed up and ready, mom had me do tricks and then one jump and then some tunnels. I had a really good time just doing one tunnel several times in a row. Class was centered around tunnels - including a straight tunnel. We worked on some serpentine handling and some rear crosses at tunnels. I had the best time ever in agility class! At one point, Susan (our instructor) was challenging mom to see if mom could put me in the straight tunnel and beat me to the end to do a blind cross before the tire. And mom COULD NOT beat me! It was funny because she was gasping and all out of breath.

When class was over, I didn't want to leave the ring. Susan gave me some liver treats, and I thought she was my new mom! :)  

Possible secrets to my success: warming up with tunnels got me all excited and no one videoed me! Bring out the camera and you can be assured of getting the slowest performances ever! Haha!

Gotta zoom!


Friday, January 18, 2013

Midweek Trip

Mom and I went to visit my cousin Wilson on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. We had not gone to see him in over a year - except for Christmas Day.

Mom and my Aunt Laura had a great time, I guess. They kept leaving me and Wilson to take care of the house. Of course Wilson just fell asleep and left me to stand watch on my own.Those silly Retrievers get tired from all that ball chasing!

He and I get along ok. We both like to bark a lot! He barks to get mom to throw the ball, and I bark to try to keep him in the herd.

Gotta zoom!


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Agility class

We went to class again today! The theme was 180s. We could handle them any way we wanted. Mom has to remember to keep doing anything that will speed me up.

Someone was nice enough to video a little of my turns so I can at least prove I was there! :)

Gotta zoom!


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Happy 2013!

Happy New Year everyone!

Today I went to my first agility class in a year and a half! It felt like we had never left. I went right in and did warm up tricks with mom. Some of the dogs and people we knew from other classes and some were new to us. The theme of today's class was front and rear crosses on the flat. We talked about how a cross on the flat can really set up a clean line for the dog.

The first sequence started jump, dw, fc on the flat, pinwheel, weaves. I had to go first!! I showed everyone how it was done. My first dw and set of 12 weaves in a long time, but I did them like a pro. I am still a very thoughtful dog out there but I knew what I was doing. :)

Mom had a good time too! I am so glad we are back to classes!

Maybe we'll ask someone to video next week!

Gotta zoom!