Monday, April 30, 2007

It Did It!

Wow, what a great weekend. Nice weather, just a couple of great days to run agility!!!

The weekend started off kind of wild. Mom and I - well our rhythm was off. We had two runs, Masters Jumpers and Steeplechase, almost right off the bat. Mom did some real wide front crosses and I went around a jump - so no Q's, but good speed.

Then we had our Gamblers and Standard runs a little later in the day. The Gamblers was kind of tough with a tunnel, back around to teeter and jump, jump combination. But we did it!! Mom says I'm really getting much more confident and starting to want to and enjoy working away from her. Makes her real proud. By the time we did the Standard run it was getting kind of hot, but I gave it my all and we Q'd - a little slower than usual, but good enough!!! I was panting almost the entire run.

The gamblers run gave us our Advanced Gamblers title, YEAH!!!! And we got the one run toward our AAD and ASA titles. One more Standard run needed to complete all of our Advanced titles, Wow!!!

Then it was off to the Grand Prix - it's kind of like a standard course but without the table and a way to qualify for regionals - nice course, we totally enjoyed it - and whadda ya know? We got third place and a Q. Wow that was our first time in Grand Prix. We loved it!

Sunday, Mom and I were tired but felt better - so we were up for our four runs.

The day started kind of frantically with the Masters Snooker, a difficult Snooker at that! Mom plotted a course with help from an acquaintance - and well-known Midwest agility champ and trainer. She has always been very nice and helpful to us. Thanks Sherry!

Ah, the course had the first red way out past a couple of other jumps. Mom hates to run with me that far - cause I get kind of slow. But I love really long lead outs and am fast at them, so that's what we did. Well I was such a good boy, I totally followed what the dog in front of us did and took the first jump - Mom just needed to be out farther for me and then bring me in toward the red. Good learning experience!!!

Then it was off to our Masters Jumpers run - We did great - got third place!!! Total fun - those jumpers runs. Mom said I was a little slower than usual, but real accurate! And real proud.

Next was Advanced Standard - and this is the big one Mom and I really wanted. The course was flowing, only one real trap. So off we went. I did well! And faster than my Standard run on Saturday. Got a real nice Q and a first place! Well that was just about the greatest ever!! We've had a lot of trouble getting our standard runs - but we are definitely getting better at them.

So that gave us our Advanced Agility Dog title and our Advanced Standard Agility title. Very cool - now we are in Masters everything.




Not too bad for 10 USDAA trials and 16 months. Now Mom and I are really spoiled!!!

Poor Gracie!

Some of you may know my sister Gracie. She is such a sweet gal. Back in 2006 she was taken from a hoarder who had 70 dogs. The adult dogs were in ill health and had to be euthanized. A nice vet in the area took in the 20 puppies. But they were so unprepared to take care of them and put four pups to a cage and fed them all the food they could eat so they wouldn't fight. Six weeks later we found her on Petfinder.com and took her home with us.

In those situations, Gracie kind of grew up wild - not a lot of human interaction and absolutely no rules, except of the dog world kind.

When she came to live with us, she had some 'issues' as dog people call them. We found as we began socializing her and taking her to training and other places that she was afraid of men, and moving cars or other vehicles, and of course sleeping in the crate at night. After a few weeks, Mom and I got her over those things. She loves her crate to sleep in now and loves all people from ages 3 to 93.

We sometimes wonder how she got to be so NICE!!!! We are so grateful for that - but not learning 'rules' early in life has made her agility training kind of difficult. And other issues may be coming to the forefront.

The past three weekends she has experienced her first agility trials. In new environments, she tends to run off, but had been doing VERY well in training and hadn't run off in many weeks. So Mom entered her in some trials that I was competing in - to get her some experience.

The first trial, we thought she did great - real proud. She ran off a bit, but came back to Mom and finished her courses. Good girl!

The second trial, on the first day she did great again. Even got her first Q and ribbon - WAY TO GO GRACIE!!! But then something happened on the second day and she ran off and wouldn't come back to Mom. She enjoyed smelling the ground and kissing the bar setters.

So this past weekend - she was entered in more runs at the USDAA trial. The trail location was close to a road - but they had the high orange snow fencing in place to keep the dogs safe. So we felt pretty confident she would be safe.

Her first run - she ran off, then the second, and the third; not once really coming back to Mom. Then she ran in another ring that didn't have a fence and she was slow to start from sniffing, but went on and did a great job!!! Finishing the entire course. We were real proud.

Then it was back to the fenced in ring - and she ran off again - this time, trying to get under it and out near the road (where another competitor dog had gone just in the run before her).

So on Sunday Mom scratched her from several runs, for her safety - we didn't want to lose our Goofy Gracie Girl!!! But Mom decided to try one more time on Sunday. Gracie took one jump and was off again - but this time something with her seemed different. Very manic, panicky, frantic and worrisome. Mom got her back with help from friends - but she felt so bad for Gracie. Poor Gracie.

Maybe it was the fence, maybe too much stimulation from the environment, maybe Mom's stress. So, we're not sure where to go with Gracie in agility just yet - but Mom and Trainer J have some ideas that they are going to work on with her. She'll still train with agility, but she may get other forms of training too, like sheep herding and obedience in a larger class.

Mom thinks Gracie was stressed to the max, and by Sunday had become fearful and panicky. Mom and Cosmo's Mom took her around the agility fields on Sunday and walked around with her and let her meet some folks and pups. It seemed to calm her down a bit. But for now - Gracie is off the competition roster until she can feel much more confident in that type of environment - 'cause we love Gracie and want her to be happy and safe!!!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Weave Poles!

My Mom is by no means an expert in weave poles. But she works hard on her own and with our trainer to get my (and Gracie's) weave poles accurate and always faster.

When I started agility, Mom and I were both beginners. And, when you are both beginners there is so much to learn. She and I started out on the weave-a-matics, then did some channel in our backyard. But neither was really right for me, since she and I were both new to these foreign things.

I learned my weaves pretty early on, but I was slow. So then we had to work on getting them faster. I was a very young pup - not even two. But Mom didn't want me to 'get used' to being slow in the weaves, and we were moving up in classes very quickly. Suddenly my slower weaves began to 'hurt us' in competition - we weren't making time. So we started experimenting.

First she got out my favorite ball and used it as a speed incentive. Well I popped out. Then she tried my favorite treat, that worked occasionally, but I would still pop out sometimes. Then we found a magic trick - she used the treat as a lure, just 6-8 inches in front of my nose as I went through the poles. No popping and boom! I was faster, and getting faster all the time.

Sometimes she even puts her hand down in front of my nose during competition, when I'm getting unsure and - off I go, two footing faster, even during trials. So she's pretty happy with my weaves now, and I enjoy them much more. We keep working at it and as I get more confident and more sure, she knows I will be even faster.

Then came Gracie. Mom was determined not to train her in the weaves so that she was slow. No way was she going to go through what she did with me. And she learned a lot between the time to teach me and the time to teach Gracie. #1 goal with Gracie's weaves? NEVER SLOW HER DOWN!

Mom used the channels with Gracie first. Always using an end reward and always making it the most positive experience possible. She gradually moved the poles closer and closer - but there came a time when Gracie just didn't get the weave action. So then Mom put on weave guides and continued working with her using food as a lure - doing an in and out motion as Gracie moves in and out of the weaves. And always keeping the food lower than Gracie's nose, to encourage her to drive through them. Gradually, Mom faded the guides and the food and rewarded at the end of the weaves, then at the jump after the weaves, then, then, then....

In just a few weeks, at about 2 - 10 minute sessions each day - Gracie got her weaves. Mom always loves that moment when "we get it". Makes her real proud. Gracie is still new to the weaves and has only 'got it' for about two weeks, so Mom still helps her with the in and out motion with out a lure, and she is about 2 feet from Gracie now when she does it.

Mom's main goal was to never slow Gracie down in the weaves. And it has really paid off. Gracie is already faster in the weaves than I, and she will definitely become more and more confident with them over time, and most probably get even faster.

Mom may not have followed all 'the rules' - but the outcome is very exciting on how she trained Gracie on the weaves. In the end, it worked and that means a lot!!!

Gracie has only been in two trials and tends to 'run off' some, but she always gets her weaves and with real enthusiasm!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

DVR Alert! Dogs That Changed The World!

NATURE's two-part special DOGS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD tells the epic story of the wolf's evolution, how "man's best friend" changed human society and we in turn have radically transformed dogs.

Part one, "The Rise of the Dog," premieres Sunday, April 22 at 8 p.m. (ET) on PBS. Part two, "Dogs by Design," premieres Sunday, April 29 at 8 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings for both broadcasts).

If you missed the first part they are re-airing in most markets. Check your local listings at:
PBS.org.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Making lemonade out of lemons!

Recently we started a new Squidoo lens on Awesome Dog Videos. You'll have to check it out sometime!!! It's jammed packed with a very wide variety of terrific dog videos from YouTube. Funny, sad, sentimental, tributes, stars, talents and much more.

One of my absolute favorites is this Budweiser commercial from the SuperBowl. Yeah I know, it's beer, but why is it my favorite? 'Cause I think it totally represents making lemonade out of lemons and using your smarts to overcome challenges in life. Maybe a little deep - but that's my take, and I'm sticking to it!

Enjoy!!!!

Sheep Agility?

Well, now I think I've just about seen everything - sheep doing agility? Guess so!

I always thought sheep were, well, not quite that smart. But it seems evidence is mounting to the contrary. Sheep 101: Smart Sheep has some interesting facts and research they have gathered to prove that sheep have some smarts after all.

Hmmm.....well guess if you put food in front of just about anything, it will do what you want. Especially if it's hungry, right?



Here's an interesting video someone sent me the other day. Just thinking, if sheep can do agility, now I know there is proof that ANY dog can do it!!! So there's no need to ask me that question any more; because all dogs are superior to sheep, right? After all, many of us herd them, they must obey!!! OBEY THE SHELTIE, OBEY THE BORDER COLLIE!!!



Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Celebrate Earth Day everyday!!!!

Sunday was Earth Day - the day we celebrate the Earth and work to bring awareness to how we can keep it healthy and happy.

In celebration, we were very happy to be a part of a big group of pups who are members of MySpace to honor the Earth on Sunday! There were over 100 MySpace pups that participated. along with Gracie and I. Tiffin, our MySpace friend, along with mega blogger Pieces, another one of our good MySpace friends, coordinated the huge celebration and participation by all the pups.

Here's a great video - we were Panda's for a day!!! Hope you celebrated the Earth on Earth Day and keep it up everyday!!!!


Ruff Love!

Ruff Love by Susan Garrett


We were totally beat after this weekends trial and pretty much took it easy yesterday, fun for us to nap with Mom on the human bed, we love that!!!

Since Gracie is having focus troubles at her first two trials, Mom has put her back into a modified Ruff Love program. Gracie has to work for her food and do lots of long distance recalls in the yard. This morning they moved out of the yard, and Mom thinks she found the key - to helping with her focus. Unfamiliar territory recalls. (Think we can coin that phrase?).

They are gonna keep it up all week, cause we are both entered in a USDAA trial this weekend. Gracie has four runs per day and I have five or more. It's gonna be a fun weekend, but Mom is a little nervous about the Grace-ster!

Have practice tonight, so we can try some new stuff out with Gracie and hopefully I get to run my legs off - one of my favorite things in the whole world.

Monday, April 23, 2007

We did it again!

This weekend, Mom, Gracie and I headed off for another agility trial - it was our first CPE trial. CPE trials are much different than our other trials - they are pretty darn easy! But it's good for those just starting out (like Gracie) and others that just want to have fun!

So Mom took me to get in some extra speed practice. And took Gracie to get her some focus practice. The weather was GREAT!!! 70-75 degrees and sunny. After last weekend of sleet and snow, it sure was a nice change of pace!

Gracie ran two runs on Saturday - she was pretty focused with Mom, only ran off once to give kisses to a bar setter. I ran one run on Saturday and Mom put me at 12 inch jumps to work on speed, rather than my usual 16. Well I got a bit confused and didn't pick up speed, but we got a Q and a 1st place finish. Wow!

Sunday Gracie ran two runs, poor thing was wacked out! She took a couple of jumps ran off from Mom and wouldn't come back - Mom had to carry her off the course. After that, Mom wasn't all too happy. She had been doing so much better. So it's back to the Ruff Love program for Gracie this week and working for her food. It helped them bond before, hopefully it will work before next weekend's trial.

Gracie is so fun loving, you can't help but love her. Mom gets a bit frustrated, but can't help but laugh at her too.

I had two runs on Sunday, Jumpers and Standard. My standard run was really great - fast, fun, flowing, and we got within 2.5 seconds of one of our favorite, and most admired, dogs out there - Buster Brown, an Am Staff! He is great - and we were so proud to be close to his time. Very cool. 1st place and a Q!

My jumpers run was pretty good, a little slower, it was getting hot and about 5:00 PM by that time. But I Q'd with a second place.

Here's my jumpers run!



We had a lot of fun! Weather great - sport great - friends great - Mom's sunburn priceless!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Crazy weekend!

What a wild and crazy weekend!

We went to our USDAA agility trial - Gracie and I. When we got there it was about 35 degrees, kind of chilly!

I had four runs on Saturday and four runs on Sunday - Gracie had two runs each day.

My runs:

Saturday - Masters Jumpers, Advanced Gamblers, Advanced Standard
Sunday - Steeplechase, Masters Snooker, Masters Jumpers, Advanced Standard

Gracie's runs:

Saturday - Starters Gamblers, Starters Standard
Sunday - Starters Standard, Starters Jumpers

You all know that it was Gracie's very first trial. Poor girl; just before her first run it started snowing, and I mean snowing! She is still such a pup, and ran around some, but came back to Mom three times - twice to do her weaves perfectly and once to the tunnel, then on to the gamble which she almost completed.

She was much more focused during her standard run and only pulled away from Mom to check out the crowd a couple of times, didn't go very far and came right back. Once she got on the table, she absolutely didn't want to go down. So no Q's for her on the first day, but she is just starting to get used to trialing - she improved 200% from her first run to her second.

Me? Well I was on fire starting out on Saturday. Got my gamble - with a very difficult tunnel dog walk discrimination. Wow, Mom was really impressed. And I was really fast in my masters jumpers run and got a second place and Q!

Then the mud set in - not so bad for me, but not so good for Mom. She had trouble keeping up with me so I slowed down some to stay with her.

During my standard run Mom was running with me, put in a front cross and slipped in the mud!!! So I missed the tunnel/dog walk discrimination. Ahhh, the elusive standard Q.

Sunday the weather was much better, but the mud was so much worse. I did pretty well though. We got 4th in the Steeplecase, but I bailed the a-frame on our standard run when Mom got stuck in the mud. Oh...another elusive standard Q, ahhh!!! Got a snooker Q and fourth place, but then we ran jumpers - I was clean but 1.5 secs over time. Dang mud!

Poor Gracie didn't recognize the tire in her standard run - and it was the first obstacle, so they got eliminated. But then she was doing really, really well - totally focused on her jumpers run. And it was a tough jumpers run for a starters course, we thought. But then she came up to one of the wing jumps and stopped right in her tracks just before the jump. Hmmm....Mom said jump and she pushed both her paws on the wing and growled a little, then looked at Mom...Hmmmmm...Mom pulled her back and directed her again and she hit the wing again, the bar fell. Then she took the jump and off to the finish with a nice rest of the run.

Mom said she'd never seen a dog do that. Hmmm....very curious. Guess she just wanted to give that wing jump the what for!

Overall it was a miserable, fun, fast, slow, wild, tiring day. Mom worked a lot throughout the weekend to help with the trial, so we got to stay in the nice warm car. Lucky dogs!!!

Here's to our next trial next weekend - our first CPE!!!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Here we go again, yeah!

We have another trial this weekend, yeah!!! It will be my second one coming back from my injury. And it's a USDAA trial, which are really fun!

But one of the best parts is that this will be my sister Gracie's first trial EVER! We call her Goofy Gracie, cause she can be so much fun, and she still has so much pup in her.

Gracie came to live with us in March of 2006. She was rescued from a hoarder that had 70 dogs. A nice vet took in the puppies and they were posted on Petfinder.com. And that's where Mom found her!

We wanted to be sure that she was a good candidate for agility, 'cause that's what we do on the weekends and we definitely wanted our new 'addition' to fit in and have fun with our family.

She's been with us just a little over a year. She's about 19 months old, just one month old enough to compete in USDAA (United States Dog Agility Association) events. She's been training since about May of 2006. Mom focused a lot on me last year and didn't train with Gracie a lot; but when I got my broken paw - she got lots of training!

She's very different to train than I am. Gracie is a very happy-go-lucky kind of gal and likes to have a lot of fun with everything and everybody. So she gets unfocused now and then; but she's been doing really well with that lately at practice. And she's still a little unsure of her weaves, but she's done them pretty much every time the first time at her last three practices. So we have really high hopes for her.

This weekend (even though I am super excited to be competing again) - this weekend is Gracie's time to shine. Wish her well, she has lots of potential to be a really good agility dog.

Good luck Gracie!!!!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The results are in!

First, I want to tell everyone that I SOOOO appreciate all your thoughts and well wishes for my 'comeback' trial. I could hear you cheering me on all day!!!

Secondly, I (oh, yeah, and Mom) didn't let you down!!!

We qualified in both of our runs on Saturday at the Columbus OH All-Breed Training Club AKC Agility Trial; earning ourselves a real nice Double Q! (Q=qualifying run)

The day started very early, rising at 3:00 AM. Then the long, three hour drive to Columbus OH. We got there about 7:00 AM just in time to get measured. Thank goodness my last measurement was under 16 inches. So I'm now official and can ALWAYS be assured I will jump 16 inches. Yeah!

We got our course maps and studied them. Mom walked our standard course and then we waited a couple of hours until our run. Mom and I were a little nervous - since we hadn't done this for about 6 months. But I think we did great for our first trial back. The courses were kind of easy (but don't tell the judge that!). We finished with plenty of time to spare and I wasn't even up to my fastest running.

Result of our first Standard run? Q!!! Yeah!!!

After our standard run, we got our jumpers course map, and studied again. Mom walked the course (but they don't let me see it until I run). Then we waited another hour or so until it was our turn.

Then we were up. I didn't run as fast as I have been, but we did well! Mom almost trashed the last jump when she stumbled, but she recovered nicely. Whew!!!

Results of our Jumpers (with weaves) run: Q!!!

Here are the videos, hope you enjoy! (And please, don't make fun of Mom's running, she tries so hard to keep up with me, BOL!)


We got home near 5:00 PM and picked up Gracie at Cosmo's house. They sure had a lot of fun!!!! And Gracie got a great parting gift from Cosmo, Brindi, Sadie and Darby -




Yes, we absolutely love the pic, what a good looking bunch of gals!

But, wait, OH LOOK IT'S A BOBO!!! They gave Gracie a BoBo! Wow, she's always wanted one of those! Can you say jealous!



You gals are the best!!!! And thanks so much for taking care of Gracie and keeping her out of my hair all day! (and night!).

We got home and we were beat!! What a long day for all of us. But a rewarding one, for sure!

So, here I am with my two Q ribbons!



It sure was just about the best time ever!!! What great satisfaction (and relief) to know that:

1. I'm over my injury
2. I can still remember how to run agility
3. Mom can still remember how to figure out course maps, courses and the best path for me!
4. That I have great friends that support me (and Mom)
5. And that Mom and I have much more to look forward to!!!!!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

There ain't no gimp on me.....

(Can you hear the song?)

.....There ain't no gimp on me, there ain't no gimp on me - I'm a goin' to the trial on Saturday - there ain't no gimp on me!....


Yee haw - went to practice tonight and was on fire. But, also, did what Mom told me, whew. No gimp, nice weaves, pretty fast - so we are all systems go for the Saturday's trial.

Thanks all, for your kind wishes and advice. We'll talk with ya next week! And know that you all will be thinking of us.

Blast off!

Gimpy?

Well, Mom had never heard the word Gimpy before I came along. And yesterday she found out exactly what it means. Yesterday, I appeared Gimpy. Not too bad, just a little limp/bobble in my gait. But wouldn't you know it, I have my first comeback trial this coming Saturday.
American Heritage Dictionary - Cite This Source gimp 2 (gimp) Pronunciation Key
n.
  1. A limp or a limping gait.
  2. A person who limps.
intr.v. gimped, gimp·ing, gimps
To walk with a limp.
[Origin unknown.]
gimp'y adj.

So Mom, massaged me, put ice packs on my left leg, and massaged me again. This morning she did it all over again, and made me sleep in the sun coming through the window. (That wasn't too hard, since it turned freezing here again the past day or so, and the sun felt SOOOO good).

She watched me walk again a little bit ago, and no gimp, no real visible limp. Yeah! Not sure what it was all about, maybe just a little muscle soreness, maybe a little pull. But I'm looking a lot better.

So we are going to training class tonight, only get one run in and then Gracie is taking over the class. But at least I'll get one full course practice in before Saturday. YEAH!!!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007