Sunday, October 19, 2014

Black and White Sunday: Awwwwww.....Sun!

After some super big storms, and three more days of rain, Mr. Sun finally came back for a long visit! I missed you Mr. Sun!

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Thoughts about Snooker....and those elusive Super Q's from a dog's point of view.

Well, there seems to be a lot of discussion again about Snooker, particularly Super Q's, in many of the discussion boards.

Over the years this topic seems to rear it's head a few times per year. We read the comments on the USDAA sounding board nearly every time the topic presents itself, again, and again.

We've been doing agility for over nine years now. Not as long as many, but longer than some.

USDAA was the venue we started in, before I got my ILP with the AKC. So it was really all we knew at the beginning of my agility career.

Being Mum's first dog, we had lots of rules to learn when we started. All the different games have different rules. Some concentrate on strategy, some on distance, some on speed (well they should all be fast right?), All the games are different, all have different goals, all have different rules.

Some dogs have strengths for some, some dogs have strengths for others.

I remember very well, that distance handling was definitely not my strong suit when I started out, I liked running with Mum; even though I got one of my very first Q's in novice gamblers at my very first trial at 18 (plus one day) months. Mum had no idea I had it in me, but she knew right then and there, what potential I had.

Since I wasn't a very good gamble dog, Mum and I worked a lot on obstacle focus, distance, and begged our trainer to let us practice it nearly every week. Soon I became a great gamble dog!

Snooker takes another set of talents, you've got to be fast (most of the time), you've got to get used to being pulled between obstacles and sometimes running far from one to the next. It takes a lot of strategy, that sometimes weighs heavily on your Mum (or Dad). It takes practice, and it takes time to develop all of those skills.

For those of you who know me, it took a long time for me to get my three Super Q's for my ADCH. Many, many times over my career in the early days and in my later days, I was second place and even first place, either in my own height or with combined heights. I competed in the 16" championship class which is ripe with talent and speed. I had my work cut out for me.

I remember Mum analyzing many of my Snooker runs trying to figure out how we could beat these great many obstacles could I do in a certain amount of time, how many could I do in the opening, how many in the closing, how many in both, how can I save time on the course with tighter turns, well, you get the idea.

Up until last year, 16" dogs were combined with 12" dogs, but the first of this year that changed with the addition of the 14" and 18" class; making 16" dogs combined in the future with 18" dogs (which in our area are most all border collies). This created even more challenge for us as almost every time we are entered in Snooker, we are combined in heights here in Georgia where we compete.

But those are the rules. They've always been the rules. I knew the rules when I started, and I know the rules now. But that didn't preclude us from trying for those Super Q's over and over and over again for years. As a matter of fact, I was only entered in Snooker for the last two years of my championship career.

I got my first Super Q in 2010 at the age of six, the second one in 2012 at the age of eight, and the third and final one earlier this year at just under 10 years old. I also got my Snooker Bronze the same day.

For all of those still trying to get those Super Q's, all I have to tell you is don't give up unless it's not the right thing for your dog.

I've run a lot of Snooker courses over the years. Some fit us like glue, others we knew going in we had no chance at a SQ. I've run slow and I've run fast. I've had an up and down career. But at nearly 10 years old, I still got a Super Q, beating every single dog in the entire championship class. Yes, that's right; I not only beat the combined 16" and 18" dogs, but I beat the 12", 14", 22" and 26" dogs. I got the highest score in the shortest amount of time of all the dogs entered that day in the championship level.

We believe that not everyone is meant to get an ADCH. We thought many times that I was one of those dogs, even though all I needed was one SQ for a long time. But we persevered and conquered my goal.

In the Yahoo groups there is a lot of discussion about changing the rules of Snooker for the Super Q's. Are they fair? It's not for us to say....the rules are the rules and we went into this game knowing what the rules were. Even when the rules changed this year to combined 16" with 18" dogs, and making my quest for my ADCH even more potentially difficult, those are the rules.

As long as your dog is running happy and healthy, I say accept the rules, embrace them, work on your training skills to coincide with the rules. It's not a safety issue, it's a challenge issue. And, you never know when that one in a million Snooker course is going to come along and fit you and your dog like glue. And when that happens may you shine bright with the Snooker Gods and get that last SQ for your ADCH.

If I did it.....believe me , anyone can.

More agility practice!

Last Saturday, we got to go to Norcross to agility practice in one of our favorite places.

One of the big things we like to do here is help Gracie with her teeter, as this is where she picked up the fear a few years ago. And they have some baby agility equipment in a back room and Mum thought it would be really fun for Rach. In addition, this is one of my favorite places to run, so Mum knew I'd have a great time and get some awesome exercise.

I started first as I'm now running 12" and the running order was small to tall.

Mum liked this little course, it has some good challenges, a little rear cross, some wide opening running, some gamble/layering ops, and tunnels galore.

So she ran's the vid. Not perfect, we made a few errors, but truth be told, I didn't even know it until I ran my second run without mistakes.

It's difficult to see but after the aframe there is a table, then you can see the tunnel on the right, but there are two jumps behind the tunnel that Mum wanted me to take. She layered and sent me to the jumps and I took them like a pro.

That made for a little off approach to the dogwalk, but Mum made sure I was on track so I wouldn't fall off again.

So then it was Gracie's turn and she ran very well, did everything Mum asked, but the little two jump/layered tunnel was a little much for her, she got the first jump, but missed the second one. But she made all her contacts, loved the tunnels, and even did the teeter fairly well on the first try with a tiny bit of coaxing.

On her second run, they did a few obstacles, heading over toward the teeter and tunnels, and then did the teeter, tunnel, jump, teeter, tunnel, jump several times, and by the time Gracie did the last teeter she did it almost on her own. She got lots of treats for that!

In between runs, Mum let Rach visit with the other handlers, he got some awesome treats for doing tricks for them (sit, down, wave, ashamed (that's his new one)) and they all had a blast.

Rach is a little shy and unsure about new people. He likes them, but he just likes Mum more. So Mum gave him permission to go play with the other folks and after he got the green light, he was happy to play with them, for a little bit; then he was back to Mum for more fun.

Also in between runs and after our runs, Mum took Rach in the back room where they have that baby agility equipment, a small low dogwalk and a short low frame, and a shortened tunnel. So they had some fun letting Rach understand these obstacles a little bit.

They have been working on his 2o2o with a contact board at the cabin, and it's great at home, so it was fun to see what he did when he saw the baby obstacles for the first time. Wouldn't you know the smarty went nearly right into his 2o2o. What a good boy!

You can see some of their practice below in the vid. This is Rach's first time really seeing and going over a dog walk on his own. He couldn't wait to get his paws on it.

It was a long day....leaving at 9 AM and getting home at 5 PM. But fun nonetheless!

Monday, October 06, 2014

Organic! Is it all it's cracked up to be? #OrganicPet

This post is sponsored by Castor and Pollux Natural Petworks and the Pet Blogger Network. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Organix Pet Food, but you know that I, Johann The Dog, only share information we feel is relevant to our readers. Castor and Pollux Natural Petworks is not responsible for the content of this article.

If you know us, you know how we focus on a healthier lifestyle, a green lifestyle and an organic lifestyle. That's how Mum was raised, and that's how she's raised us!

So when the nice folks at Castor and Pollux Natural PetWorks who have a wonderful organic pet food wanted us to talk organic, we jumped at the chance to talk about healthier foods and treats...'cause we are agility dogs and we love jumping!

We've learned a lot about organic over the years, and with the increase in GMO's in human and pet foods, the increased use of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and insecticides, and the heavy use of antibiotics and hormones in factory farmed meats, it's never been more important than now to go organic.

That's why, when Mum searches out foods and treats for us, she always looks for the most holistic, organic resource available. From our favorite moose antler chews, all the way to our raw fed chicken backs, necks and feet....and everything in between. It's important for our health to not be exposed to all those unnecessary and added chemicals and drugs.

When Mum was writing not too long ago about GMOs and how they may affect your dog, she discovered something that made her very happy: A certified organic label precludes the use of GMOs in your food and we believe that's a very good thing.


Because we believe, just like Mum, that the most whole, unprocessed foods are the healthiest foods for us. Yes, we, just like Mum, may go for the occasional 'processed' treat, but the idea behind our lifestyle is minimizing risks; and with organic, you are minimizing a lot of risk in your dog's health.

So what do you think? Is organic all it's cracked up to be?

The folks at Castor and Pollux, makers of ORGANIX, the most complete line of certified organic natural food for pets made under the USDA’s National Organic Program, and featuring certified organic, free-range chicken or turkey as the number one ingredient; organic fruits, vegetables and more, have created an interesting survey to help find out what you and other pet lovers think and know about organic and organic pet food.

So head on over and take the survey now (it will only take a minute or so), we'd love to have your opinion on organic, and what it means to you and your dog!

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Black and White Sunday: Look but don't touch!

Look what we found in the yard the other day!

Mum has learned over the years living here on our mountain, that sometimes things aren't what they seem. So when she sees something very odd, she usually takes a photo, does a quick Google search to see what that weird thing may be.

Good thing she did with this little guy, as we hear he packs a nasty sting. Native to Eastern North America, the Saddleback Caterpillar is the larvae of the adult is a dark brown, stout-bodied moth. This moth is very distinctive as you can see in the color photo, with bright green and a large brown spot on it's back that looks like a saddle, and very porcupine-y hairs coming out on the front and back end.

Mum was very glad we had absolutely no interest, we just let him go on his way.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Agility practice and a big fall!

Last Friday, we headed south to a great place we like to visit to rent an agility ring and get in a little practice.

We met up with our pals Rocco and his Mum, as they wanted to get in a little practice in a new place; and it was great to have other dogs around to get us all excited to play our favorite game.

Mum ran Gracie a couple of times and she did very, very well! She didn't run off at all, was really focused on Mum, made all of her frame and dogwalk contacts, and even did the teeter twice in a row making all her attempts. We were very, very proud.

I got to run two runs too. We loved this little course they already had set up, so we stuck with it. It had some nice little challenges, some backside jumps, straight tunnel challenges and weaves after the chute which is always interesting.

Waiting our turn!
The first time Mum ran me, it was a disaster. I was super fast....Mum didn't get where she needed to be, I blasted out of the tunnel and we almost collided. But the cool thing was that the first three jumps to the dog walk, then a straight on backside jump, was a work of art on my first run.

My next run we got on video, and we are so glad we did! You can see that something happened on my approach up the dogwalk and when I reached the first apex, I was on my way to falling off. Take a look and let me know what you think happened?

Thank goodness, I was completely OK, Although you may, if you listen very carefully, hear Mum say a little bad word. But yep, she checked me out thoroughly and I was a-ok. She didn't want to end my day with that fall, so we started over and had a really nice little run. Not as fast as my very first one, but not too bad for a 10 year old!

After Gracie and I were done, it was Rach's turn. Rach has been doing ground jumps, tunnels, and working on a wobble board and contact board at home in your cabin yard. But he has never, ever seen the real contacts before. So Mum wanted him to experience them a little in a really safe way, feel the rubber under the paws...well you get the idea!

She first put him on the table and he did an immediate down. What a good boy! Mum worked a little on having him stay in the down and taking a few steps back. After the third try he got it.

Rach has so much fun, he bit Mum's finger! 
Then with Rocco's Mum on one side and Mum on the other, with Rach in his harness, the led him up the dogwalk. I think the Mum's where a bit overly cautious and made Rach a little nervous, but he finally enjoyed the second time over, and immediately when into his 2o2o. What a good boy!

Then they headed over to the teeter, and what do you know? Rach went right up to the end (with the Mum's holding it up, and got lots of treats there. Then he did it again, and got more treats, then the Mum's lowered it up and down a few inches so he could feel the movement and he was doing so well, that they slowly lowered it and again, he went right into his 2o2o. Another good boy!

They headed over to the aframe and the Mum's lowered it to about 2 feet off the ground at the apex. Rach couldn't wait to get his paws on the frame. Mum leashed him and led him over and he scrambled over and did his 2o2o again! He did it a few times and they finished on a super happy, accomplished note.

The weather was amazingly perfect, so we took a little hike after around the grounds, then the Mum's headed out to lunch while we were happy to take a little snooze. 

All in all it was a great training day and super fun with our pals!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Week three with Rach!

We're getting way behind on keeping you up to date on Rach! But we're trying to catch up.

So, the third week with Rach, he got lots more freedom out of hi pen., as he's really learned our routine now and knows the down/work times for Mum, and when it's time to play and eat.

His stay is really strong now too, and Mum can feed Wiggy just a few feet away and Rach will stay and respect Wiggy's space.

Now that his stay is getting stronger, Mum is working with him and and his stay when she gets a little 'out of sight,' and with movement. He's doing really, really well. And now that that is accomplished they are working on comes without movement, which is going well.

Rach is also learning a lot about leave it, as that's so important here on our mountain with snakes and scorpions and toxic toads....well you get the idea. He's getting there, but has much more to learn. Mum wants him to come to her when she says leave it....that's the ultimate goal.

He is really loving the tunnel. The second time Mum took it out in the yard, he offered it up immediately; remembering it from a week before. So Mum decided to place some ground jumps before and after and before the 10 minutes of play was over, he was taking ground jumps and the tunnel from about three feet laterally. What a good boy!

Mum and Rach have started learning 2on2off. As Rach will be larger, Mum's goal is to teach him a solid 2on2off with a super quick release. He's just mastered keeping all his feet on the board and looking for the treat. So they have a good start on contact training.

As Rach's stay wasn't all that good, and now that it is, she tried getting a threesome photo of us. Here are the results. He still doesn't feel completely comfortable sitting super close, but he's getting there. Some folks say in the out take below, he is giving them the stink eye. But he's actually making sure they are OK with him sitting that close. how curtious!

Rach is running zoomies at least once a day, and sometimes twice a day, with YoYo around the cabin, keeping them both in great shape.

He's loving his raw chicken necks and parts of backs, but they are sliding down way too quickly. So Mum is getting some larger necks for him to enjoy. And his moose antlers have become the best chewing babysitter ever!

Rach ended up 15" and 14.5 lbs at the end of his third week with us.

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