Monday, August 29, 2016

2016 Summer Fun

With no summer vacation to Farragut this year for August 20-28 I bounced around between Calgary and the Pass for a week of "holidays." Finally hit up Island Lake Lodge on some decent days for photos and hiking. So nice up there!

Evening on 21-Aug:

Lunch time on 28-Aug:

In honor of the original photo from 2 years ago where we briefly saw Island Lake Lodge (and were  promptly hooked on the views) the original 3 came hiking and we did "family" photos again - Nike unfortunately doesn't do family photos yet!

The in no apparent order:

Thursday, July 7, 2016

2016 AAC Regional Championships

AAC Regionals were hosted by Calgary Agility Association (CAA - the agility club I belong to) this year in Calgary at the Rugby Union. This might have been Baxter's last Regionals. So this was a nice bit of symmetry, since the first Regional event I had ever seen (I volunteered, as Baxter and I had just started taking classes) was hosted here in 2011.

Back to the "standard" 2 days of competition with Steeplechase on Friday to warm up if you do things like that. The venue was nice. Fantastic grass, but windy as all heck since it's on top of a hill. There was also no off-leash, which I don't appreciate, since I use that to help rev Spencer up and then reward him after as well.

They also drew the courses and the orders we would run on Friday night. Our group ended up running Standard first each morning followed by Jumpers and then Gamblers. I didn't really appreciate having Standard first both days.

After the fiasco last year with the photographer, I still signed up this year to get the photo packages even after it was announced that it would be the same photographer. I think I'm a little disappointed in the photos, definitely better than last year, but again, I have been sent "professional" photos in which my dogs are out of focus. Oh well. Maybe I will learn.

Exhausting waiting for the closing ceremonies

During the lead up into Regionals I had things other than agility on my mind. We practiced maybe once a month for the 3 months before Regionals. It might have showed a little. Baxter at least apparently forgot how to weave, but it was mostly my fault for not practicing.

Baxter's Results

Despite not practicing, Baxter ran great all weekend for me. On Saturday we had a weave bobble that cost us a clean run there, but we had a lovely Jumpers and would have got the final Gamble if he had hit the DW contact (so close!) He did get 35 points in that Gamble even if we didn't get the main!

On Sunday it was pretty much a repeat of Sat. Another weave bobble in Standard (popping the second pole again), lovely Jumpers and decent Gamblers where I really messed up his closing where he might have gotten the "hard part."

Baxter ended up placing first in all events except for Standard 1, where he placed second. He ended up the 6" Veteran Regional Champion with 463.15 points! Good boy Fluff!!

I wish I would have gotten a picture of his name engraved on the trophy. I don't care that much about winning (although it is nice) but what I do care about is that we are "immortalized" on that trophy as a team.

Baxter's Regional/National Stats:

2013 Regionals 6" Specials 1st Place: 448.50 points 3/6 clean runs, no gambles
2013 Nationals 6" Specials 2nd Place: 439.44 points 2/6 clean runs, no gambles
2014 Regionals 6" Specials 3rd Place: 405.79 points 3/6 clean runs, no gambles
2015 Regionals 6" Veterans 1st Place: 510.80 points 4/6 clean runs, GOT A GAMBLE!!!
2016 Regionals 6" Veterans 1st Place: 463.15 points 2/6 clean runs, no gambles

Spencer's Results

SO proud of my baby black dog this year! Spencer was a furry little rock star and the weather was about perfect for him - or at least it wasn't raining and cold!

In our warm up round, he ended up scaring himself good on the teeter, which was my bad, so I had to remember extra support there for the rest of the weekend.

Saturday he was doing great in Standard (DW second obstacle!) until it was teeter into the weaves and they were fairly close together. He popped the second pole when the teeter tipped back into position after he got off of it and he was a little worried for the rest of his run. The finish on Standard 1 was nice though. Jumpers was lovely and then in Gamble he was a rock star. When he is on, he is a good little gamble dog! Not only did he get a mini twice, he also got the main in Gamblers 1 and got a whopping 78 points!

The ONLY photo in which Spencer actually looks happy

Sunday we started off really good and he was driving in Standard 2. Got and nailed the weaves that Baxter missed. However, on a flat jump he didn't see it and wasn't on approach to it. I thought we were called on that as a refusal (we weren't) so I was a little upset with myself and not handling as much as I know I should have been. It was teeter, jump, tunnel. So Spencer is off because of the teeter again and slow over the jump. I thought the straight tunnel was obvious, but this is Spencer we're talking about here, and I didn't support it so he didn't take it. We did get a refusal for that one!

Again, Jumpers was nice and in Gamblers he got a tunnel/DW mini where I had to stay roughly in the middle of the DW while he went to the end. He rocked that one twice! Unfortunately he didn't get the main, but he was still a rockstar in my eyes!

Third year was apparently the charm, and Spencer traded in his 2nd places to place first in 6" Specials, winning a Regional Championship for the first time with 470.33 points! SO proud of my baby black dog. He has come so far from the little puddle of puppy shut down on the floor that I brought home, and like Baxter, our partnership is immortalized as well on the trophy.

Spencer's Regional/National Stats:

2013 Regionals 10" Regulars 4th Place: 398.66 points 2/6 clean runs, no gambles
2013 Nationals 10" Regulars 12th Place: 419.25 points 3/6 clean runs, no gambles
2014 Regionals 6" Specials 2nd Place: 434.79 points 3/6 clean runs, no gambles
2015 Regionals 6" Specials 2nd Place: 422.27 points, 4/6 clean runs, technically no gambles, SO CLOSE
2016 Regionals 6" Specials 1st Place: 470.33 points, 3/6 clean runs, GOT A GAMBLE!!

My heart might not have been there going into Regionals, but after set up, I got my mental game together and we gave it the best we had with basically no preparation leading into it. So proud of how my little dogs did this weekend!

Bestest boys!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Off Leash Fun

To celebrate the beautiful day on Friday (and to tire out certain unnamed puppy's) we headed out to Wet Noses for some field time.

Fitting in

Since Nike doesn't have her full set of puppy shots yet, this is as close as I want to come to running around fields where I know there have been other dogs. Also, the fact you rent for a hour and you get the fully fenced field to yourself is awesome. Means I can work on recalls with good levels of distraction, but not be too worried about puppy misbehavior.

The dogs were crazy. Spencer was zooming around for nearly 45 minutes before he toned it down a little! It makes Nike SO MAD that she can't catch him (which might be good, since she should start to run more efficiently and less bouncy!)

Hopefully signs of future friendship?!

She's only "caught" him since he stopped and changed direction to come back

Penny is the only dog who will play with Nike in the house. So the girls stick together a bit. Penny runs naked now though, as Nike will grab her collar and drag her around the house!

Not to leave the rest of the dogs out ...

SO MUCH happy!

Aww Fluff <3

Baby fluff!


Saturday, March 5, 2016

Confessions of a Dog Trainer: I

So, my puppy is now 14 weeks old, and I JUST taught her to sit (and down, and stand.) Or rather, I just taught her the verbal cues for these things. Sit has had non-verbal (positional/prop based cues) since she was about 9 weeks.

I think this (sit) is one of the first things anyone ever teaches a dog, but I wanted her to learn to  about shaping first. Specifically, shaping movement - like backing up, pivoting and paw targets.

Also, shaping movement is fun! Sitting and staring is not so much fun. I want my puppy to have fun learning right now. We're working impulse control and "It's Yer Choice" games (aka don't mug the hand for food and your butt needs to stay on the ground to get out of your xpen/kennel.) Just not sitting (on a verbal, for duration.)

So, I'm confident in the order I did things. Regardless if that is the "right" order or not, it's the way I wanted to treat things this time.

But that doesn't make it any less awkward at puppy class when they are telling us to get the puppies to lay down on their mat and I'm sitting there having her sit. Or pivot using my iPhone as a perch. Or do nose touches. So the instructor comes over to help me and I get to explain that we just aren't working on that right now.

At least sit is on a verbal now, right?!

Photos from Saturday - she was 14 wks on Wed. She's slowed down on the growing taller and is now filling out so not just a insubstantial fluff anymore!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

13 Weeks

Sitting like a dork, but pretty little ears!

Still growing like a weed. Last weekend the little purple harness fit perfect. This weekend it is almost too small - we'll have to move up to using Spencer's harness!

This weekend we rocked demo doggin the warm up drills for my Saturday agility classes (just flatwork, not really a drill per say.) Usually I'd use a student dog, but since I have a handy dandy untrained dog of my own now, I can demo with her and work on tiny bits of stuff with novel new distractions!

We also did some fun shaping after class. Starting to shape retrieves - or at least rewarding the return of the ball to the human. It makes it a better game when you actually bring the toy to the human instead of running off to chew on it. (At least in the eyes of the human.) We also did some bang game stuff, which was very adorable and precise. Very nice 2 foot "pouncing" on the end of the board and no worries whatsoever. Handy how all the pivot/perch/feet on the thing work has translated into her putting two front feet on everything!

Today we all went to agility practice. The boys were wonderful. Spencer has remembered how to weave again, which is nice. Hopefully that will hold over into competition since our next trial is coming up in March. Baxter reminded me about some of our weaknesses with threadles, at 8 though, there isn't a whole lot of retraining that I'll be doing with him. Mostly I modify my handling to what he'll get right - and that works too. Such a good boy. Love my Fluff.

Nike hung out and didn't scream in her kennel. Then we did some recalls and just chased our human around. Relationship building is still very much a work in progress. Despite being a herding breed and smart, Nike is also very independent. So far training isn't a lot different than training my non standard breeds at this point. Very much a case of convincing her she does want to do this thing with me. Or rather, make it easy to do what I ask and reward heavily for it. 

Super high value human! Hard at times. Actually harder than my boys to be honest, but we're learning together.

Legs, legs more legs and now, lots of tail too!
Learning the ways of the indestructible squeaker ball

No back feet!