Thursday, July 31, 2008

Natural instincts!

Today, I am a very happy dog. Not only did I get to go to agility practice, but I got to herd (well, you may just want to say, chase) some sheep. Yes, I said SHEEP!!!!!

Back in early April of 2006 at about 20 months old, I saw sheep for the very first time. It was a little seminar put on by my agility trainer's sheep herding instructor. Just a few of us young pups getting a look (and maybe even taste) of sheep for the first time. It was an instinct herding test; a test to find out if you have the instinct to herd. That's one of the pics of me at the seminar picking up a stray.

And boy did I! The first time I saw those four legged furry things, I went nuts! Then they let me have my turn at herding. I loved it. I craved it. I absolutely had the best time of my life. Here's a vid of that herding test from way back in 2006. You can see, those woolies made me crazy.


Our agility trainer has had sheep for a couple of years now, and I have to put up with seeing them nearly every time I go to training class. Just this year, they moved the sheep grazing area right next to the jumpers practice ring. And what happened today? Yep, they were out in the field munching up a storm. And they had the gall to do that while I was trying to run agility.

I was a good boy, though. And it was good practice. I paid attention to doing my agility thing throughout the entire 30 minutes. But after that, I just wanted at 'em. Over the year, Trainer J has mentioned that maybe I'd like to go see the sheep. Well, today Mum let me. Now that I'm healed up and running really well, she thought it would be a pawsome reward. And boy, howdy! It as a stupendous reward.

Only scary thing was Mum couldn't get me off of them. You see (sometimes like Gracie does in agility competition runs) I loose all my hearing when I'm on sheep. Something that was mentioned at my herding instinct test back in 2006 was a concern that I may not be able to be controlled around the little woolies. Maybe with some formal training, we'd be able to see if I could. But without that, there was no way I was coming off my duty of herding those little guys.

So just about the time I got one of the woolies into a corner and was working to get them out, Mum tackled me! Can you believe it? She tackled me. Was the only way she was getting me back. And I squealed for her to let me loose, until she got me back in the car.

The entire time, Mum had the biggest smile on her face I've ever seen. She said, 'there's just nothing better than seeing a dog do what he's born to do'. You said it Mum, just give me more! And thanks for letting me at 'em.

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So on to what happened at agility practice today....

The hour started with Gracie, she had to work the jumpers ring with the sheep in the grazing field right next to her ring too. It was great distraction work for Mum and Gracie. And Gracie did pretty well. She ran off once or twice, but we were pretty proud of her. Gracie got a taste of sheep at that herding instinct test too. She had only been with us about four weeks. But they let her give it a go and she was a natural herder just like me. So seeing the sheep at practice today and not running off was huge for the Gracester.

She did some jumps to a tunnel, then some weaves. She's been having trouble with weaves when Mum is on her left, but no problems when Mum is on her right. But I think they got that fixed this week. Gracie does her weaves fairly independently when Mum is on her right, but Mum still needs to help her by keeping her hand low, out and in front of Gracie's nose when Mum is on the left. But they'll fade that soon enough. Mum really likes Gracie's weaves, and only believes that she'll get faster and faster at them, even thought she's already faster than me.

Then they did some work on running some short sequences. Like me, Gracie gets kind of bored after they do an exercise more than twice. So they moved on to new sequences pretty fast and Gracie kept her focus really well.

Mum signed Gracie up for two show n go's and a CPE trial in August. Since it's been a year that Gracie has been on agility trial hiatus, it's time to see if she's going to lose her brain when she gets out there in a trial situation. Sure hope she can be good and focus on her 'work.'

After Gracie it was my turn. We started with some jumps to a tunnel, then a difficult weave entrance, two more jumps, back into the tunnel to another difficult weave entrance. Nailed it. And that was with the sheep just grazing in the next field. Next!

Then we went over to the other ring. Worked on a couple of jumps to the frame, into the tunnel and a tight turn up the dog walk. And what did I do, yep, bailed my contact again. So we tried again, yep bailed it! And that was with Mum decelerating and shortening her stride at the end. Something that worked last week. But no, not this week. And probably not in any upcoming trial either.

So then it was time for a big 'what to do about the dog walk contact' discussion. Lots of talking going on with Mum and Trainer J. But here's what we all decided to do to fix it.

One of Mum's big concerns is that I don't have specific criteria set for making the yellow. Never have. It was a problem in the beginning, but then I seemed to get it well enough to get bunches of Q's. Then I got hurt a few times, I got slower, and the dogwalk wasn't a concern, I made the yellow.

But now things are different. I'm feeling at my best, and confident. I want to go! So they both think I need criteria. And they both want me to do running (better for my body shape and size). Without a dogwalk in my backyard to practice on it's kind of difficult.

So, the plan is to teach me to run over a mouse pad. I know, sounds funny, but wait. Mum is going to get a mouse paid (yellow), teach me to run over it on the ground, click as I touch it with a couple of paws, then throw a treat bag, or target out about 5-10 feet. All while not slowing me down. Then, when I'm at practice on a dogwalk, they are going to place the mousepad about 5 inches from the bottom of the dogwalk, with a hoop over the end. Then throw the treat bag, or target way out from the dogwalk. Then fade the hoop soon, and then fade the mousepad by cutting it smaller and smaller, soon thereafter.

That's the plan for now. We've read lots folks methods for teaching running contacts, but without a dogwalk, all of them would be difficult. This way, they believe, I can still train the criteria at home, and put it to work at practice sessions each week. Maybe it's a crazy idea, maybe it will work, maybe it won't. Guess we'll see. We'll keep you posted.

We also worked on the 'circle of doom.' It's a set of six jumps, formed in the shape of a polygon (I think that's six sides). Anyway we did serpentines with it, and then we did threadles with it, then we mixed and did a few serpentines and threw in a couple of threadles and back to the serpentines. Made Mum have to work her brain early this morning. The whole idea was to utilize the backy uppy on the threadles, and not allow me to pass Mum's plane. An additional benefit is that I kept pretty good speed even two and three times through the circle. Not something I used to do.

Then we put the backy uppy to work on the jumps, tunnel, weave, jumps, tunnel sequence to put me in the opposite side of the tunnel the second time through and it worked great! It needed to be a little smoother, but it worked! Just needs some practice. A nice alternative to the RFP which Mum doesn't do very smoothly anyway.

With all this herding and agility, Mum sure isn't going to need to check out those Fenphedra reviews, fur sure!

Mum was really happy with everything I did today. Got home, and what did I want to do? Yep, herded birds. So I did that for 5 or so minutes and Mum made me come in for a rub down and stretching. Ahhhh Mum!!!!!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Big re-launch of my website!

Bet many of you wonder where I've been. Well, we have big news to share!

For several weeks we've been working on the redesign of my main website - JohannTheDog.com. We finished it over the weekend, did some testing on Monday and launched the new site yesterday morning. We are super excited!

If you ever saw our old site, it was pretty difficult to navigate and find your way around. The dog products were all over the place and separated from the great dog information pages. The new site still has all the cool dog products and information that the old site had, it's just cleaner, tidier and more organized. And the best part is that we added 100's of new dog products - from beds and bowls, to toys, treats, agility gear, and more!

We want to thank a few of our blogging buddies for helping us with tips and advice when we got stuck; and a few others that pointed out some important things that we needed to do to get the site going. Luckily we didn't need any moving pods along the way.

Take a look at the site and let us know what you think?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Catching up!

Oh wow, what a beautiful sunrise this morning...just amazing! See that little bird in the lower left, I want to herd him. Can I? Can I?

Bet you're wondering what we've been up to the past few days, since we haven't blogged since Friday. It's been a lot!

Mum finally got the lawn mowed again, so the HOA lawn police wouldn't give us a ticket. Again, it was as tall as my tummy, and Mum had to mow about three times to get it all done. That hill behind our house is a real toughie. Doesn't look very big, but it's steep and getting more and more difficult to mow every year. Mum just wishes the big pine trees would grow faster and take it all over. Our hydrangea really looks great this year with all the rain we've had. Check it out!

Since it's been so hot and humid here the past week, we haven't gotten in any backyard agility practice. But looks like the weather channel says it's going to cool off just a bit after the big storms that rolled through last night. There were some big boomers! Good thing all four of us 4-leggers in the house aren't afraid of that stuff...or it would have been a really rough night. We all slept through most of it.

Some of the calmer nights we see the hot air balloons taking off from the church grounds (you know, the one where I took off after a bird) across the street. Everytime Mum sees one, she remembers back on her first balloon ride. She said it gets cold up there in the clouds. And she remembers when she used to crew for a balloon team - that was fun! Me? I just bark at the darn things.

Most of the past few days Mum and I have been paws to the keyboard working on our new website redesign. It needs it sooooo badly. The current one is not at all easy on the eyes, less than stellar to navigate, and isn't at all Google friendly. We are really liking how the new one is turning out. But it's taking a long time, too long IMHO.

Mum and I are really looking forward to the day we can announce it's live!

With all this hot weather I've really been blowing my coat. Our trainer says that I'm now at the age that I'll start coming out in clumps and that's just what I'm doing. Didn't know you had to be a certain age to do that. But now that I think about it, Gracie isn't blowing the way I am. Interesting.

Have to tell ya, we sure are going to get comments at our next AKC trials, 'cause I look nothing like a sheltie now with no coat. Unless you count the old time working shelties from way, way back in the olden days.

Even though it's been super hot, it hasn't stopped me from herding birds a little each afternoon. Mum snapped this pic in the middle of my mission. Don't I look determined!

And Gracie is keeping cool by attacking the water from the hose, and practicing for her upcoming debut as an entertainer at the August children's party gig. She's a crazy girl, that one!

Mum is way, way behind in signing us up for upcoming trials and really has to get on that. There's a USDAA trial and CPE trial (for the Gracester) in August. And a big AKC trial Labor Day weekend in southern Indiana, which we'd love to enter and stay with our bud, Cosmo.

And a new organization is putting on a USDAA show 'n go in August. Gracie is entering that one too, since it will be at our trainers place and it's familiar territory for her. Gracie hasn't been in any trials since she started 'running off' in the ring last fall. Hope all the hard work she and Mum have put in pays off. Guess we'll see come next month what's going on in the Gracester's mind.

Mum found something really weird on me the other day. I have a very small patch of fur missing from underneath my left eye. Doesn't look like an injury - from, oh maybe, a cat scratch or something. She's not sure what's up with it, but is keeping an eye on it. It's way too close to my eye for her taste.

Mum is making us homemade frosty paws today! Can you say excited?

Time to get back to the pool for me. Hope you all have a great week!

I got a Squid gift!

We got a surprise package in the mail the other day - a really nice Squid gift from the great folks and friends at Squidoo! Check it out.

The shirt's a little big for me, but I really like it! You may remember that recently I was honored and grateful to be named to the Giant Squid Top 100 club in recognition of the 100+ lenses I have on Squidoo.

Now all I need is to hit the Outer Banks, and I'll be good to go!

Thanks so much Squidoo, the Giant Squid Organizers, and all the great friends I've met in the Squidu Forum. You guys rawk!

Results - European Open 2008!

I'm a little late in posting this, but....the final results are posted for the Agility European Open 2008.

Individual final results, in the small category, show USA's Joan Meyers and Neil tied for seventh place; Amy Peikoff and her Pyr, Boo had the best US finish with 16th place in the medium category, and for the large category Olga Chaiko and her BC Yankee finished in 27th for USA with Nancy Gyes and Ace in 31st.

Looks like Team USA 3, 2 and 1 (large category) had some trouble with disqualifications. Team 3 finished 53rd, with Team 1 and 2 finishing 73rd and 74th. Team USA 4 (medium/small category) faired better, coming in at 16th place, USA's The Melting Pot in 32nd place, USA 5 in 61st place and USA 6 in 71st.

You can see all the results here. Looks like it was the year for Silas Boogk. Here's a vid of Silas Boogk and Caja, listed as a sheltie, winners in the medium category. Boogk, from Germany, also won the large category with his BC, Back. They need to get a few Primera labels and stick 'Winner', all over them! Nice job.


And one of the blogs I watch, O'Bay Shelties, took two spots on the podium for the small category. Big congrats to them!

Here's a link to some of the courses from the weekend.

Friday, July 18, 2008

European Open this weekend!

The European Open 2008 gets underway this weekend in Gelsenkirchen, Germany.

The competition is accredited by the FCI and based on the FCI agility regulations 2007. It's open for all dogs, with or without pedigree.

All FCI member national organizations or associated national organizations are invited to participate in this competition. Teams from the following countries are expected to compete: Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland and the USA.

The individual competition in the large, medium and small categories will take place on July 19, 2008. The team competition in the large category, as well as in a mixed category small/medium will take place July 20, 2008 and the award ceremony for all competitions will take place on July 20, 2008 after the team competition has been completed.

We could only find one bit of information on the US Team, to date. Here's an article from the Journal-Register about Della Sliker and her sheltie, Jazzmine. Jazzmine will be the youngest dog on the 30-member U.S. Team. Other team members we found who are attending include: Sliker, Erin Schafer, a five-time World U.S. Team Agility Competitor and individual gold medalist from Massachusetts, her husband Ben Philbert and Mary Jo Johnson of Farmington who will form a four-member team during group competitions.

If we find more information as the competition progresses, we'll keep you posted. Good luck to Team USA and all the competitors!

And to get you in the mood, here's one of Sylvia Trkman's runs at the finals last year...enjoy!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

What I learned from Stuart Mah and Mary Ellen Barry!

I was thinking today about my first agility trial and my very first competition run. I was just two days over my 18 month birthday. It was a Gamblers run in USDAA, indoors on astroturf.

Mum had a great plan even though she had never run Gamblers before. She timed out the opening as best she could. It was a big 'ole wide circle of obstacles, very flowing and very fast. Jump, dog walk, jump, teeter, tunnel, frame, jump, then a front cross into the weaves (which was very nearly right next to the gamble - three straight jumps down the line, to a curved tunnel way out that came back toward the line to a table).

At the buzzer, we ended up in the 8th pole of the weaves, Mum turned me out toward the three jumps and as I was going over the second jump said 'go tunnel'. I went into that tunnel like I was born to do it, and when she called me through to the table, I jumped up on it and she picked me up like I was the best present she had ever received in her life. Why? Because I was!

We love agility, live it, breath it, read about it, talk about it, run it and don't know what we'd do without it. I came away from that trial with 7 ribbons, 4 first places, 3 second places and 4 Q's. We knew it was the sport for us.

Along came the injuries, the slow downs, the speed ups, the winning streaks and the losing streaks. But we never gave up, always thought through and worked on the down times, savored the good times, and kept on, keeping on.

When Mum and I attended our recent seminar with Stuart Mah, some of the old, beginner feeling started to surface again. The good runs, the ones where I was running full out, working away, being a young pup and having a blast.

At the end of the seminar, Mum really felt she could get me back...all she had to do was get me more confident and get me obstacle focused instead of handler focused. Because over the couple of years I've been running and competing, that's what I've become - I've become handler focused.

This is the key to what Stuart helped us understand. There are obstacle focused dogs and handler focused dogs. And they are just as they are, either focused on the obstacles or focused on the handler. Not one is any better than the other - and there are challenges with both.

Now, I'm a pretty good gamble dog, when I'm confident and moving. I got a few Masters Gamblers Q's that we're pretty proud of. And we've worked on gambles in practice and in training class. I know what 'go out' means, I know what 'go to a specific obstacle' means. But by letting me loose and getting me focused on the task at hand throughout an entire course, rather than Mum, I'm encouraged that I can be better.

At the very beginning of the seminar, we ran a full course, with half weaves and no table. I ran it with pretty good speed, but I was wide, wide, wide on many of the jump sequences. Mum knows I've been running wide and has tried tightening me up, but never really felt she had a complete handle on how to do it, even though we worked on it at practice and training class. Sometimes it's like marketing, you have to hear it dozens of times, in a variety of ways, before it soaks in.

With Stuart Mah's and Mary Ellen Barry's seminars we found some keys. But remember, these are my interpretations of what I learned at both of their wonderful seminars. So if I got it wrong it's my fault!!!

Stuart talked about accelerating and decelerating, a lot like driving a car. You accelerate when your taking off, driving though fairly straight lines, and when you have to turn sharply, you decelerate, make your turn and accelerate again. Makes perfect sense, don't ya think?

Timing on accelerating and decelerating are kind of difficult and need practice work, but once we started getting the hang of it, a big wow came over us. After those dozens of times, Mum was getting a clue!

At the end of Stuart's seminar we ran the same exact course we ran the beginning of the day. About 2/3 of the way through the course, Mum started getting the accelerating and decelerating timing down with me, and dog was I tight! So tight that Stuart said Mum's eyes about popped out of her head when she saw me turn - she knew she had to move, and move fast to get me to the next obstacle. It was a very cool moment.

Another big aha moment was when Stuart talked about turning your handler focused dog into an obstacle focus dog. One way is by giving them direction to move ahead of you, by verbally calling out the obstacles. So when Mum walked the courses at the Regionals just the next weekend, she paid attention to when she would call out the obstacles, go tunnel, go frame, go walk, etc., in relation to her body movements and arm movements.

And I have to tell you we both think it made a huge difference in my speed over Regionals weekend. Duh! If I know where to go, I can go and not have to worry about where Mum is and rely on her body or arm movements to tell me where to go next, right?

Mum caught up with Stuart near the end of the Regionals weekend and thanked him again for all he taught us at his seminar. She shared with him that we got the gamble that day (even though we didn't have enough points in the opening because of my DW contact), and he was impressed, because not many dogs got that gamble that day. Made them both smile.

A couple of other tips for turning me into an obstacle focus dog that we picked up from Stuart are:
  • Use going out body cues
  • Cue the obstacle ahead of time, as early as possible
  • Look at the obstacle not at the dog
  • Have your dog work ahead of you as much as possible
  • A dog that's behind you will be slower than a dog that's ahead of you
  • Move fast
  • Use a louder voice
  • Give your dog as much information as possible throughout the course, through body, verbal and movement cues
  • Teach your dog to work away from you using out cues and obstacle cues (use a target in the beginning, then wean it away)
  • Make your cues clean and simple
  • Teach your dog to ramp up and ramp down
  • Don't ever demotivate for distance, always reward for it
  • Teach turning cues - left and right - use it on courses and your dog will pick it up easily
We also picked up some tips for a more obstacle focus dog - which Gracie is more like than I:
  • Move more slowly
  • Use a softer voice
  • Teach bringing in close body cues like 'here' and reward for it
  • Look at the dog
Well, you get the idea they are a lot of 'opposites' of a handler focused dog.

At the MEB seminar the Monday after Regionals, Mum and Gracie had a great time. One of the big, big things that they learned was about movement. Pulling (the dog toward you on a course, like for a turn) by shifting your weight on your leg nearest your dog and taking off with the outside leg; for a push, shifting your weight to the outside leg and taking off with the leg closest to the dog. Duh! Never thought of it that way.

A few other great things we got from MEB were a few practices of Linda Mecklenburg's Direction Cues (articles in Clean Run, May through July 2008) exercises. It was great for Gracie and Mum to get that practice with one jump. Very cool. Gracie did great at the entire seminar.

Other tips Gracie and Mum got at the seminar:
  • Always get eye contact with your dog coming out of a tunnel (Mum needed that lesson at Regionals with me, so we wouldn't have gotten that E in Team Standard)
  • If your dog runs off (like Gracie does) stand your ground, call them firmly, and reward, reward, reward for coming back to you
  • Your dog should never pass your 'plane' and get around behind you
  • 2o2o - use a plank if you don't have a DW, release word is independent of motion, teach your release while moving, simulate trial situations, reward for staying, make a game of sticking the contact, make your release very clear and don't make it motion - make it verbal
  • Move the correct direction (on the course) as early as you can
  • Reward dog if you make the mistake, because it is most probably certain they did what you cued them to do :) Know the difference between your mistake and you dog's.
BTW - Mary Ellen has a really nice series of articles in Clean Run about Foundation Fundamentals - April through June issues. Check 'em out!

So with two seminars and the Regionals, we had a wonderful agility vacation. Couldn't have asked for a better time. We are really grateful to Mary Ellen and Stuart for taking the time out of their busy schedules to have these seminars around the Regionals. They were kind, supportive, fun, and very educational. If you ever get a chance to participate in their seminars, we highly recommend them! We sure hope they come back again, maybe in time for those Halloween invitations! And thanks to both of them for letting me write a little about what we learned.

Here are the two runs from my seminar with Mr. Mah. The first part of the vid is my first run of the day with the wide, wide, turns. That run occurred at about 8:30AM. Then the second part of the vid is when we utilized many of the tight turn tips from the seminar. Even though that run took place on the same day at 6:00 PM, and I was a little slower, look I was tight - DOG!!

Dogs in politics!

Not since Richard Nixon announced he had received his dog Checkers as an illegal contribution gift from a traveling salesman named Lou Carrol, has a dog in politics been as prominent as the next Obama dog is becoming today!

Two highly influential organizations are voicing their opinions and soliciting the dog world for theirs!

In one corner we have the American Kennel Club (AKC) who if Senator Barack Obama becomes President wants the family to get a purebred dog, and in the other corner is Best Friends Network petitioning the Obamas to get a rescue dog, purebred or mixed breed!

We agree with Best Friends that the decision Senator Obama and his family will soon be making is a decision that will affect millions of American dogs. It has been widely reported that interest in breeds selected or who are currently 'best friends' of Presidents grow in pupularity during a President's term.

If the Obama's do decide to adopt a homeless pup, it could mean a great deal to all homeless pets in America, and potentially the World!

So, what's your opinion?

And if you'd like more information about Dogs in Politics, the history and the mystery - check out my Squidoo lens!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I'm a member of the Giant Squidoo Top 100 Club!

Last week during all the fun agility stuff we did, we got some great news!

Squidoo announced that I am now a member of the Giant Squid Top 100 Club! That means I now have at least 100 quality Squidoo lenses, and I get some extra perks for being a top dog.

We are incredibly honored to be a member of this amazing group of Giant Squids. Since I started writing educational, and fun dog related Squidoo lenses in December 2006, these lensmasters (as Squidooers are called) have become some of my best online buds, provided amazing advice, camaraderie and laughter!

Thanks Squidoo, and the great Squidoo staff, including Gil, Megan and Seth for an amazing and fun ride. I'm looking forward to many more years Squidooing my little doggie heart out!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Trail recap from the weekend and other stuff!

Gracie's bored out of her gourd! Yep, since she didn't get to go to the trial this weekend, she decided to get into something else, a roll of toilet paper. Poor Gracie....

We got back kind of early from the trial yesterday since we were just 5 minutes from the trial site and it was an AKC trial with two runs for each day. That was so great!

I had a pretty good weekend. 2 Q's, 2 NQ's. Our first run was Standard and really nice and speedy, but Mum didn't support me through the tunnel, so I pulled out early when she took off for the next set of jumps. Dang, oh, so close! And I was just a tad under 4 yards per sec on this run - really happy with that!

My next Jumpers run was pretty nice, but Mum had to do two front crosses to handle me best. Did I tell you how much I hate her doing front crosses? Yep, probably because she doesn't do them right, because she really can't get in the best position with me moving like I am now. We locked eye to eye on both of them, and I gave her the hate stare. Made her eyes pop! I Q'd but both Mum and I weren't happy with the run.

Sunday I got up raring to go again. Mum just can't believe my stamina now. After doing a seminar Wednesday past, then regionals for three days and another seminar on Monday and practice on Thursday, I ought to be dog tired. But noooo.....let me at that course!!!

Sunday's Standard run was a disaster. I blew my dog walk (after making it beautifully the day before), then Mum turned me out after the Frame and I went really wide (she used the wrong foot to turn me, silly Mum), so I got a refusal, then I think I knocked a bar, but we stopped counting at that point. I was nice and speeding however. Weave speed was just OK. But it's obvious we must, must, must do something about my DW contact, front crosses and a few more things.

We had to wait a while for our next Jumpers run. Mum stayed with me at my crate and rested. She got me out between and we did some tricks for our friends. They loved it and I had a blast.

When it was time for my last run of the weekend - Jumpers - Mum got out some treats and we worked on target, since that revs me up greatly! I ran jumpers beautifully. Took the rear cross impeccably, and then what did Mum have to do again, yep, a front cross (just before 16). But she was in a better position this time and I didn't give her the evil eye. We had a really nice run.

So we got a couple of Q's, no DQ's, but we don't really need them at this point. Wish we would have gotten that Standard Q on Saturday, 'cause we get so many more MACH points in Standard than in JWW. But we had a great time running. And Mum really thinks my confidence is back. You may remember that I sniffed the little white pieces of athletic tape the last time I was at this facility. This past weekend I only did it one time, and that was during our disaster Standard run. (Mum thinks it was stress, duh!).

Then what did I do again this morning? I went to the door that leads to the garage, raring to get in that car and go again! WTD??? Mum couldn't believe it! Guess all that endurance work and rehab has done me well!

But Mum has no intention of doing any agility with me at least until this afternoon. BOL! She's exhausted!!! I've never seen Mum so tired and still trying to get all our work done, clean the house, mow the lawn - she's going to kill herself if she doesn't slow down. Mum's only been getting about five hours of sleep a night for a week. She's even having the eye twitch thing, which she hasn't had since she was a youngin'. I think I may get her a wine refrigerator so she can partake in the evenings and get more rest! She's got to take it easy!!!! But the sad part is Gracie and I aren't really letting her.

But the good news is Mum has loads of work to do this week. She got two new clients last week and they are starting with consulting this week. She's also doing a teleconference with pet sitters to give them some marketing tips on Tuesday night. That should be fun!

We aren't signed up for another trial until August, so Mum should have some time to catch up, rest and keep things running. But she promises both Gracie and I will get our hill hiking and agility practice. She's also teaching the Gracester a few new tricks for her upcoming performance. A little leg weaving, and a couple of other things. Gracie will love that!

Hope you all had a terrific weekend! Sorry the week has come so soon for ya, but have a good one K?

Friday, July 11, 2008

More agility this weekend!

Before I begin, Gracie was really upset that I didn't post a pic of her cheerleading at last weekend's regionals. So her is the obligatory pic of Gracie (BOL!)

See, she has her mouth open, not so much from the heat, but from getting all worked up screaming while I was running, sheesh!!!

So this weekend we have another agility trial. An AKC trial only five minutes away from our house. Cool! With all this agility, Mum definitely doesn't need to check out those diet pill reviews!

After last week's performance on the dog walk and this weeks practice with that certain obstacle, it is undetermined what I may do - bail or not bail - that is the question! But Mum promises she's going to do everything she can to support me in making my contact this weekend. She has yet to figure out how she's going to do that, however.

And after the last trial in this facility, guess we'll see if I am willfully disobedient and sniff those little white pieces of athletic tape all over the course soccer flooring. Guess we'll have to wait and see on that, as well.

Mum and I have been working super hard and long hours this week - I think Mum has averaged about 5 hours of sleep per night for the past five nights. So guess we'll have to see if she remembers those courses, too, huh?

We still promise to post about our great seminars with Stuart Mah and Mary Ellen Barry, from last week. We've been putting some of the tips we learned to good use already!

Oh and good news this week! We got the results from the Regionals (love it when the event organizers email us our results), and we did get that last day, last run of the trail Jumpers Q. So that means only 2 more Jumpers Q's until our Jumpers Champion title. Nice surprise!

Hope all of you have a puptabulous weekend! Stay cool, if it's hot, and stay out of the smokey air if you're in California, and stay warm if you're one of my Aussie buds.

Dog stuff around the Internet!

You know I just love finding fun, interesting and cool stuff around the Internet - whether it's dog related or something I thinks pups (and pup lovers) would have an interest in. So here's this weeks list - it's a long one!

Can Stem Cell therapy help pups with hip dysplasia, orthopedic problems in tendons and ligaments, and bone fractures and arthritis? Seems pets are reaping the benefits in droves.

Want to see some really cool 3D flash animation? Check this one and this one!

Tired of that old standard ringtone? Try out these dogs! And here's one more from DogChannel.com.

Pet detectives are on the tails of the lost pups. Two Baltimore area sluths are helping owners find their lost best friends!

After five years (and 800 visits) as a "pet encounter therapy dog" at the Helen Woodward Animal Clinic in Rancho Santa Fe, Chester is being inducted into the California Veterinary Medical Assn. Hall of Fame. Way to go Chester!

Gracie is a reactive dog at times, the overly-friendly and playful reactive kind. So Mum is always looking for ways to be more 'connected' with her and help her be 'controlled' in new and exciting environments. Brenda Aloff’s Get Connected training philosophy helped put Victoria Craig and her border collie on the path to developing a strong and stable relationship. The book jacket says "the book brings you new ways to train your dog and to improve your understanding of how your dog perceives the communications you give to him. This is done by providing you with a series of exercises based on Positive Reinforcement training and a new set of protocols based on developing and improving any relationship." I think we'll check that out!

Ever since my 'incident' with the kids in the neighborhood, I have been pretty scared of the little guys and gals. It's so important to not only protect your pup from the environment around them, but it's really important that kid's know how to act around us pups. Here's an interesting article we found with tips to help teach your kids how to 'be' around dogs.

The AKC announced recently an agreement with Twentieth Century Fox Licensing & Merchandising to produce a co-branded pet product line for the upcoming movie Marley & Me. This feature film adaptation of John Grogan’s New York Times bestselling memoir, about his adorable but naughty and neurotic yellow Labrador Retriever, will debut on Christmas day 2008. The products will be sold through Walmart stores.

Trakr, once hailed as a hero, the retired Halifax police dog can no longer use the hind legs that pushed him through the ruins of the World Trade Center as he sniffed for survivors. His hearing has faded and, at 15, his dog days seemed numbered – until science gave him a second chance at life. A California genetics company has selected Trakr to be one of the world's first commercially cloned pets after his master – a former Canadian police officer now pursuing an acting career in Los Angeles – won an essay contest with a futuristic prize. Read more...

A new organization, No Paws Left Behind, is a focus driven not for profit organization, designed to bring awareness to the silent victims of foreclosure. They further pledge to act as a support group for those who find foreclosure imminent and need help to find shelter for their beloved pets; be a resource for those who find or know of abandoned pets; and last, but by no means least, they are uniting to end the needless suffering by creating a national movement targeting lawmakers to change the laws categorizing pets as personal property.

Want to make your four-legged friend a StarPet? Enter Tails Pet Media Group and celebrity pet trainer Bash Dibra new contest - StarPet 2008. The contest is geared toward getting one lucky animal companion the free training she needs to make it in the movies.

A new product coming on the market is a tiny camera on your pet's collar to let you see through the eyes of your cat or dog while you're away, or while they tour the neighborhood on your walkies! The Pet Eye View Digital Camera is scheduled to arrive in stores October 2008!

National Geographic Channel's Dogtown is returning with the season premiere that follows the rehabilitation of the Michael Vick Dogs. The two-hour season premiere will be held on Friday, September 5, at 9 PM, and new episodes air every Friday at 10 PM beginning September 12! Wonder what happened with some of the other Vick dogs? Read this from the Washington Post.

According to the LATimes, LA Unleashed blog, an Associated Press-Yahoo News poll found pet owners favor McCain over Obama 42% to 37%, with dog owners particularly in McCain's corner. And while the pup owners have their say in who should win the next Presidential Election, the AKC is polling readers to help the Obama's decide what breed of dog they should get! Hmmmm...bet they are recommending a purebred!

TISSUE ALERT! Our blogging and Twitter friend - SewCrazyDogLady - pointed this cool story to us, and Snopes.com says it's true! In 1969 two men, Australian John Rendall and his friend Ace Berg, bought Christian the lion from Harrods. But Christian eventually grew too big to be kept as a pet in London and was taken to Kenya, where he was rehabilitated into the wild by the 'Lion Man', George Adamson. See this clip of their reunion years later. Read more about Christian's life, see the movie and read the book!



Want to make some cool animated vids of your pups? Check out Animoto.com!

Are you mad about dog agility? Can't find enough info about agility on the Internet? Thanks to AgilityNerd.com, you can now search for all kinds of dog agility information through Googility.com! Check it out.

Want to win some cool dog stuff? Enter FetchDog's new Great Dog Products Sweepstakes! But hurry, contest ends July 31st.

Want to ping all your social networking sites and blog(s) in one place? Check out Ping.fm!

Gotta cold? Teach your dog to get you a tissue!

Check out these two key Animal Planet shows today and tomorrow. Sit, Stay, Die is about Scamp, a 4 year old Schnauzer, who has predicted the death of 58 residents in a nursing home in Ohio over the last 3 years with near 100% accuracy! Is Skamp psychic or is there a more scientific explanation for his behavior? 9:30 PM ET. And...the Animal Planet Dog Championships 2008, from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania will air at 7:00 PM, ET.

You may have known that not all pups know how to swim. They will most probably instinctively paddle, but keeping afloat and knowing how to get out of the pool or pound is something they may need to learn. Read this to teach your dog to swim! And check out my Squidoo lens for more info.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

DVR Alert: Greatest American Dog - July 10th!

It's only two days away! This Thursday is the premiere of Greatest American Dog on CBS 8PM ET/PT! So set your DVR's!

Twelve extraordinary teams of dogs and owners from across the nation will live together and compete against each other in challenges that put the owners' ability to train their dogs to the test and for the grand prize of $250,000! Wow, with that kind of money you could get yourself some nice Corpus Christi real estate.

Want to know the odds on who's going to walk away with the big prize? Vulture lays it all out for you.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Regionals - Day 3!

The Rescues (to the Res-Q) did it! We got a Q in team at the USDAA NC Regionals today. We are super excited!

You may remember that we were in 21st place end of Friday and end of Saturday. So we really had to pull it out for the last event today - Team Relay. And we did. Not one fault by any of the three of us on the relay course. Then we kept our paws crossed until the results were announced.

Out of 38 teams, the Rescues to the Res-Q came out 15th. Not too bad considering two of us on the team had never done team before and it was Regionals, with many of the teams above us big names, World team and USDAA and AKC Finals participants. Wowser, what an honor! Guess those Team company logo shirts really paid off! And look at the cool patch we got!

So Mum, Gracie (the best cheerleader ever) and I are having a little celebration tonight - just wish I could have more of my favorite treats, but the tummy is screaming!

Remember yesterday? I had a bit of an 'explosion' in my crate at the trial? Well, this morning I woke up, raring to go and even had a solid poo. Mum was incredibly relieved, and we set off for the trial this morning, bright and early.

First event for us this morning was the last Team event - Team Relay. Here's the course:

I started the run taking the Dog #1 spot, made it clean and not too bad on the speed. Mum handed the baton to our teammate and they took off, ran nice and clean; third teammate did the same and we woo hoo'd each other at the end! Too fun! I love three dog team relay - very exciting, energy is high. And I have to say that it ran really smooth considering all the jump height changes.

My second run of the day was Masters Gamblers. Yesterday I was bailing my dog walk and I did it again today. Mum had a nice plan for a Q. Jump, two dog walks, two tunnels, two teeters and then whatever until the buzzer sounded. Well, I bailed my first and second dog walk, got the two tunnels, tried for another dog walk (probably should have gone to the teeter, but), headed for the teeter - out of time, buzzer sounded.

So we headed for the gamble (without enough points) to see if we could work it. And we did. Dog, I was moving. I took the first jump and was up the frame and Mum was still 5 feet from the line. Took the jump and Mum tried to turn me out, but I turned in. But since she was back so far, she ran toward the tunnel - told me go tunnel, and I did! Then I took the last jump like a pro. So I got the gamble, but we didn't get the Q. But I have to tell ya, you woulda thought that I did the way Mum was giving me lots of 'good boys!'

Next event was the Grand Prix finals. Since I didn't Q yesterday because I was sick as a dog, Mum went over and gated the starters standard event. She likes to gate, don't ask me why.

After that, it was time for the final event of the weekend. By this time it was about 87 degrees, sunny, no wind and hot, hot, hot! But I gave it my all, was over 4 yards per second, but I knocked a bar, dang no Q! Three more needed for my Jumpers Champion title.

Overall we are super pleased with the weekend. We got that Team Q I really wanted, got in a pairs Q, I was super speedy, even with the Big D hanging over me a bit, even with the heat, and even though it was a super long weekend. Mum is really happy with my performance, and she thinks that I really stepped it up this past weekend. Maybe this high level of competition agrees with me, hmmmmmm.

While we were there this weekend, our good buddies Simba and Willow gave me a birthday present, see! I got to open it when I got home tonight. Love it!!! That was so thoughtful of them, thanks you two!!! We wuvs ya.

When I got home I had a little Big D, but not too bad. And Gracie even had a little. There were a lot of dog buds that I talked to that had the Big D this weekend too! Hmmmm....wonder if that happens a lot?

Anywho...here are a few other courses from the weekend. This is the course from Team Gamblers yesterday...

Here's Steeplechase Finals...

Here's GP Round 1...

And here's Team Snooker from yesterday...

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Regionals - Day 2!

We're back from Day 2 at the USDAA NC Regionals here in Indiana. It started out fast and ended with a bang. Overall, another pretty good day!

Our first run was Team Gamblers. This one had a timed gamble at the end of the run. So the goal was to accumulate as many points as possible before the buzzer sounded, then get as many points as you could before the buzzer sounded again - about 15 seconds.

Mum put me over a jump, then the dog walk three times (I bailed my contact two of them), the chute, then up the frame, a jump, the frame again, two jumps to the tunnel - then the buzzer sounded and we got in a tunnel and three jumps. Real speedy, and not bad, except that I didn't get points for those two dog walks where I missed the contact. So we were low on points for our team, dang it! But at least we didn't E!

Next event was Team Snooker. Nasty course, but doable. We did three reds and three sevens in the opening. The closing 2-5 went well, the 6 was a super nasty weave entrance, so Mum put me around a jump to get the entrance more smoothly - worked great! We made it through to 6 in full, almost seven, just shy of one jump. We were happy with the run, even though Mum thought she was getting really confused with all the sevens we did (the seven was a jump, straight tunnel, jump combo), but she kept here memory together! The run was really nice and speedy and both our teammates made it through to the six as well!

Next event was Master Standard - and here's where the day's problems began. I bolted off the start, just like Mum has been working with me on, took the dog walk (with a nice tunnel discrimination), chute, then weaves. Just as I entered the weaves Gracie (my sis) put out the biggest scream in history and, of course, I missed my weave entrance. Then I went into the tunnel, for way too long. Mum finally got me out, and took me off the course. Hmmmmpppphhhhhppp!

Then, Mum went to build the Grand Prix course (she built courses today, 'cause she likes to do that). When Mum came back she saw that I was looking funny - then she saw why. I had the biggest, meanest, smelliest Big D explosion in my crate that she's ever seen! So it was off to get cleaned up - crate too. And Mum watched me closely to see if she thought I'd like to run my Grand Prix.

Well I did! At least that's what I told her before the run. But then the run started, and I didn't feel good at all. I was running really, really slowly, with my head down. So Mum said, 'it's OK,' took me off course and we headed for home.

We stopped by my vet (she was at the show too) just before we left and talked with her a bit about my Big D episode. Mum wanted to get her expert advice, because she remembers well last year at this very same location, nearly the same month, I got a nasty bout of gastroenteritis the last day of a trial.

So for dinner I had yogurt, cottage cheese, with an acetylator supplement, and some Emergen-C to hydrate me. It's been three hours since the big explosion, so far so good!

Mum really hopes I'll be able to run tomorrow. We're entered in Masters Gamblers, Masters Jumpers and our final team event - Team Relay. Right now our team is still at 21st, just two teams shy of the cut off for Q's. So we really need this Relay to be great - paws crossed!

Hope you all are enjoying your weekend!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Regionals - Day 1!

Mum, Gracie and I are back from day one at USDAA NC Regionals. Had a pretty good day!

It rained, or drizzled almost all day at 70 degrees. Very unusual for Indiana during the 4th of July weekend. But we didn't complain at all. That's my best running weather - as long as the course doesn't drowned me with mud, and it didn't!

Our Team is 21st overall right now out of 38 teams, with two events held - standard and jumpers, just shy of the top Q placements, so there's still hope. Our teammates are doing well, and we're having fun!

My first run was Team Jumpers - all jumps with 12 weaves. Really flowing, open course, which are my favorite. I got some really nice speed going in that course! And ran clean. The timer malfunctioned during my run, but the Judge said that he was sure the time was just over 32 sec., so he gave me a choice - take the 32 sec or run again for time. So I took the 32 sec, since Mum doesn't want me to have to run more than I've already signed up for! We were happy with that, because we were within just about 3-4 seconds of some of the top dogs, cool!

Second run was Masters Gamblers. Difficult gamble - left side of the tunnel (u shaped) and then had to go in the left side of the tunnel again, then jump, jump. I took the tunnel the first time, but didn't make it through the second time. It was a 1-3-5-7 with no 7. Got in 27 points, but no Q.

Third run was Team Standard. Mum says I ran that run probably the absolute fastest I've ever run in my life in any trial ever. So much so that Mum had no chance to get in a front cross she had planned. But I still made it through and was doing great - until I came out of the tunnel and Mum said go weave. But I got ambitious and took an off course jump first. She loved the ambition - and the super speed. But was sad that we got our Team an E. We'd probably be in the Q range right now if it wasn't for my E. Dang it! Three more events to go, so we're still really upbeat!

Fourth and last run of the day was Masters Relay. Our partner was new to Masters. We weren't super speedy for the last run of the day, but we Q'd nonetheless! Cool!

Mum worked some, built some courses and did a little gate stewarding. We tented right near one of the Masters rings, so we got to see some great runs and some great handlers - many top handler/dog teams are here. But the Regional is small. Everything is running well and smoothly, from what we could see. We started at 8:00 and were done by 3:30. Most all the rings were done by 4 or so. Not bad. Heard lots of great compliments on the site location. Well, we certainly like it here a lot!

Gracie got to spend some time on 'control' around the chaos! Doing some tricks, sits, downs and stays for Mum just outside the rings. She did great, so Mum let her play with some pups that were on hand. She had so much fun, she's now out like a light!

Tomorrow is Grand Prix, Team Gamblers, Team Snooker and Master Standard - for me. Weather for tomorrow looks cool in the morning, around 60-70 with a little humidity. Will be sunny with a high of 78 or so later in the day. Sunday's weather looks like a high of 83-85 and sunny with low humidity. Couldn't ask for better 4th weather!

Hope you are all having a great 4th of July! And for those outside the US, have a super weekend, K?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Oh my gosh! It's Tuesday already!

Wow, have I been sooooo negligent in posting (and visiting everyone)! Last timeI posted was Friday and here it is Tuesday night already. Time sure flies when you are having fun!

This weekend Mum and I did lots of work on our Squidoo lenses. They're having a contest of sorts, and if you had 100 quality lenses completed by June 30th, you have the opportunity to be named to the Giant Squidoo Top 100 club. So we went for it! We finished up our 100th lens at 5:00 PM on Monday, and sent in our 'application.' We should hear in a week or two.

We created some really fun lenses - one on dog painting, prison dogs, deaf dogs, dogs and ticks, a few movie and book reviews, and I did some lenses on my favorite things, and teaching your pup to do some fun stuff. You can see them all on my lensography!

And we got in some hiking, some present and treat giving for my birthday - and Mum even let me run agility in the back yard for my birthday! Can you believe it? BOL!

In other news :) We got an email the other day from a parent looking for a dog to perform at her child's birthday party in August. So Gracie's going to do it!!!! She's going to do some tricks, some agility, and leap for the water coming from their garden hose. We sent off her 'audition tapes' from YouTube and they were very excited. We're excited too, because now both us pups in the family are making some bucks for agility! Woo hoo!

Mum had let our lawn go so long, because of work and agility, she was afraid that the Home Owners Association would send out the lawn police. But we finally got it mowed today. Mum had to mow back and forth several times, and that hill behind our house (which is great for my hill training) is a bear to mow. She's exhausted now.

This week at Rescue Me is sheep week - stop by and see if there are any sheep you'd like to adopt!

So the big week is here!!!! Tomorrow Mum and I are attending a Stuart Mah seminar all day. Gracie has a sitter to keep her company. Then we are competiting at the USDAA North Central Regionals on Friday through Sunday - including our first 3-dog team event. Gracie will be there to cheer me on! May have to get that plasma mount, so we can watch the vids in style!

Then on Monday, Gracie and Mum are doing a seminar with Mary Ellen Barry. And they said that I could tag along and mostly audit - but I may get to do some stuff.

I guess this means that we're taking a little vacation!

We have been incredibly sad that we've been so busy and haven't been able to visit with everyone - we sure hope stuff lets up soon so we can get back to reading your blogs (well, not the agility stuff, but the other stuff). And thanks to everyone for sending me the cool birthday wishes!!!! You all the best friends a pup could ask for, fur sure!

If we don't see ya, or talk to ya - hope you have an amazing 4th of July weekend (well, those in the US anyway). And for those not in the US - hope you have a great weekend! Everypup - stay safe, K? Those fireworks can be scary sometimes!