Tuesday, March 31, 2009

2009 AKC National Agility Championship winner vids!

Eric at AgilityVision has been super kind in putting up videos of the finals runs from the winners of the 2009 AKC National Agility Championships. Great runs! Click here. And thanks Eric!!!

Update: We found the video on YouTube, enjoy!

Dog agility injury survey!

If you are on Susan Garrett's email list you probably received this email this morning. Susan has a friend that is doing her PhD studying injuries in agility dogs, and she needs our help.

Kim Cullen has put together a survey for any of us that have participated in agility. It doesn't matter if your dog has suffered an injury or not, in order to get good data Kim needs to hear from everyone! Here is the link for her survey

If you want to read more about the study or find out more about Kim, check out Susan's blog today. Just a note: Kim is a top competitor in agility, as a Canadian Nationals Champion with her BC, Recess, and as an alternate on the Canadian IFCS World Team.

Being an agility dog that has received a couple of injuries in agility during my short three year agility career, the data and information that can potentially be gleaned from this type of survey is very important to me. And sensing from the Google and Yahoo searches I get on dog agility related injuries nearly everyday, I believe it will have significance to many of my readers as well.

So we encourage you to participate if you enjoy the love of agility. We took the survey this morning, and it only took a few minutes for both me and Gracie.

BTW - the dog joints and ligaments image in this post is available as a chart from Dogwise.

We have a winner for my Marley & Me DVD giveaway!

It wasn't easy, we had lots and lots of entries, but I sniffed out a winner for our Marley & Me DVD giveaway late last night.

Are you ready! Drum roll please!!!!!

The winner is....

Rocky, Bear and Angel LacyLuLu (who will get to watch from heavens above with her family)! Big, big congratulations to the Hudson Furkids!

I sure hope they have lots of tissues, they are gonna need 'em.

If you didn't win and want to see this once in a lifetime movie, it's released today in stores and online. Here are the links for the Single Disc Edition, Two-Disc Bad Dog Edition, and the Three Disc Bad Dog Blu-Ray Edition:

And thank you to every peep and pup who entered! You all all winners in my book :)

Monday, March 30, 2009

A few vids from AKC Nationals!

Here's Olga Chaiko and Yankee, the 26" winner, despite a missed DW contact. Missing the DW isn't their usual, if you want to see their amazing running DW, check this out!

Here's Jean LeValley and 3-year-old Speck. Despite a few bobbles in this final run, they finished up in 11th place. Definitely a pair to watch for the future.

This is Denise Thomas and Zippity, third place finishers in the 24" category.

And last for now, this is Angie Benaquisto and Dylan (a pair I run up against quite often in my neighborhood), and winners of the 16" class at the AKC Invitational. A great run, very well handled, they are an awesome team!!! With this run they finished up in 5th place.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Running contacts - progression #2!

So, after a couple of sessions with the plank on the ground, we were very pleased with the results.

Here's a little recap: Since I already have a running contact, it wasn't difficult to get me to run across the plank. The difficulty came in making sure I didn't jump the yellow, even with the plank on the ground. BOL!

To do that we varied the placement of the reward target out from the plank. For me, we brought it a little closer so that I could see it better, focus ahead, and drive ahead. Once I was running 100% and driving to the target (didn't take but a few runs), we inched the reward out further from the plank to make sure my speed was the fastest going all through the run. It worked great.

For Gracie, Mum had to give her more independence, to make sure she ran the plank, crowding her made her run around the plank. That worked well. And Gracie ran through the plank with the target at about 10 feet or so consistently.

So, once we both had been at about 100% for many reps, it was time to elevate the plank. Now remember, we don't have a dog walk, so to elevate, Mum utilized the patio that Mum built before I was even born.

The nice thing is that out from the patio there is a nice gradual slope in the yard. Even better for this situation. So she propped the board at the end of the patio creating about a 1.5 foot slope. And she put down a non-skid rug on the patio to give us some grip. This slope really was the beginning tell tale in how both me and Gracie would stride through the yellow.

You'll see I hit the yellow right in the center, a great placement. Gracie however, strides through only hitting her back feet in the yellow, and sometimes just barely getting in the yellow. She has a much longer stride than I. We decided after viewing many other vids of larger dogs doing running contacts that we may have to work on Gracie's striding through the yellow. Not to alter her stride per se, but to help her understand to run completely through it.

Right now, we're treating it as a wait and see. But we have a plan to alter her stride if need be. To do that we are going to vary the placement of the reward target out from the plank, like we did with me.

Also, Mum started varying her placement as we ran the plank - moving out on either side, running with us, standing still, etc. Making sure we continued striding through the yellow. Worked great.

So for now, you'll see in this vid both of us with the plank elevated for progression #2. Enjoy!

This is the second in a series of posts about re-training my running dogwalk contact. You can see the first post here:

Johann & Gracie running dogwalk retraining - progression #1

AKC National Agility Championships - and the winners are!

This news just in from the AKC website:

(Photo courtesy American Kennel Club)

The 2009 AKC National Agility Champions are:

Front Row Left to Right:
26" Champion – Olga Chaiko & Border Collie "Yankee"
20" Champion – Kim Terrill & Border Collie "Steeple"
24" Champion – Robert Yi & Border Collie "Cap"

Back Row Left to Right:
Andy Hartman (AKC Director of Agility)
16" Champion – Paulette Swartzendruber & Shetland Sheepdog "Rush"
12" Champion – Dee Anna Gamel & Shetland Sheepdog "Kelsi"
8" Champion – Daneka Hedges & Papillon "Allie"
John Lyons (AKC Chief Operating Officer)
Curt Curtis (Assistant Vice President - Companion Events)

You can see all the final results here!

Looking over the results we saw a great showing by Spec and Jean LaValley, ending with 11th place in their first Nationals. They just got their MACH about 3 weeks ago, definitely ones to watch. Also saw Jean Hood and Tanner (who also just got their MACH) ended with the 7th place spot in the 24" class just inching by Marcus and Juice, an amazing finish for a first timer and a young pup. Another one to watch.

The BC's couldn't hold on to all the placements in the 16" height class. A sheltie (Rush) took the top spot, with a Pyr (Luka), RT (Dylan), and an Eskie (Denali) right up there with two BCs (Tango and Driven).

BC's took most all the top spots in the 20" class, with a Golden (Beamer) coming in at 11th place. Familiar and not so familiar names in the top spots for the 24" class. And some familiar BC's in the 26" class took many of the top spots.

Congratulations to everyone participating. I hear there were some challenging courses, great competition, some late upsets, and some super fun runs and times. Kudos to Eric at AgilityVision, we also hear that the live streaming video was wonderful, and much appreciated!

Eric's AKC Nationals DVD of the Challenger Round and Finals will be available for $24.99. And if you miss the live stream and don't want to wait for the DVD you can purchase a high resolution .mp4 Video Download of the Challenger Round and Finals for $14.99. Here's more info.

I'll be looking forward to reading everyone's blogs upon their return.

On to Tulsa March 26-29, 2010!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Fun Games - Go to your Mark!

I don't know about you, but I love playing games with my Mum. Not only do I get treats, but I learn new stuff that helps me be a happier, healthier pup. This new game is called "Go to your Mark."

Mum put down a a piece of tape on the floor and the goal is for me to go to the mark and then do what she tells me. So far I can go to my mark, lie down, and then sit up, and we're working on more distance behaviors.

Wadda ya think? If I can hit my mark, I can be in the movies now, huh?

This is the second video in our series of Fun Games you can play with your dog! Our first one features Gracie - "Turn off the Light"! Enjoy!

Border collies take early leads in AKC Nationals!

Well, looks like the border collies are dominating in the early rounds at the AKC Nationals in four of the six heights this year. All 1st-4th place finishes in 16", 20", 24" and 26" in today's Round 1 Standard results are taken by border collies. The 12" 1st-4th places are all taken by Shelties. Then there are a couple of paps, a corgi, and a PRT in the 8" category.

In round 2, not much changes in the breed mix, but in the 16" height class the shelties aren't far behind the 1st - 4th placements. The 20" is again dominated by BCs in round 2 with a few Goldens hot on their heels.

Pretty excited about the 24" class. One of my friends, Jean Hood with her young BC Tanner is in 3rd place going into round 3. So cool - they are on fire! You'll recognize many of the top place holders from the 24" class going into round 3 tomorrow - Marcus Topps, Jen Pinder, Daisy Peel, Terry Smorch, Carrie Jones, Nancy Gyes, Linda Mechlenburg, and more.

There's been a lot of consistency in the 26" class, with only slight movement in placements from 1st through 13th place in round 1 to round 2. You'll recognize a lot of those names too. Geri Hernandez, Gerry Brown, Linda Mechlenburg, and more, with Deb Joseph's Lab Joey right in there.

From Friday:

Cumulative winners of the International Sweepstakes Class, both Standard and Jumpers with Weaves, were crowned Friday afternoon. The first place winners automatically qualify for the World Team Try-outs in early May in Minnesota.

Winners were:

1st – NAC MACH3 Strathspey Sapphire Rock-it MXF – Shetland Sheepdog – Barb Davis
2nd – MACH 2 Waldenwood It’s All in the Mix XF – Shetland Sheepdog – Kate Conn
3rd – Topflite’s Galiko Spike-Omite MX MXF OF – Papillon – Anne Timson

1st – MACH Bare Cove Blue Lite Special – Shetland Sheepdog – Paulette Swartzendruber
2nd – MACH2 Dylan MXF – Rat Terrier – Angie Benacquisto
3rd – MACH5 Romayne’s Prairie Skye VCD1 TDX XF – Shetland Sheepdog – Alice Michaels

1st – MACH Hob Nob Cult Classic MXF – Border Collie – Channan Fosty
2nd – NAC MACH5 Jumpstart Maladjusted Jester XF – Border Collie – Daisy Peel
3rd – MACH4 Hillcrest Zest XF – Barb Davis

Team Finals Results:

1st - Northwestern States
2nd - Pennsylvania
3rd - Massachusetts
4th - California
5th - Wisconsin

You can see all the results and course maps from Saturday's Round 1 and 2 here. And you can see Friday's results here.

One of the vendors - DDGraphix - is blogging live from the event and has a little play by play as the day goes on. A couple of other bloggers: Melanie Miller, Agile Minds, is also blogging while attending the Nationals; Melissa Frye, SkyrocketDogSports, is also blogging, and here is a nice link to some vids - including Ali Roukas, Linda Mechlenburg, Carrie Jones and more.

Will most certainly be interesting to see how this all shakes out in the end. Continued good luck to everyone competing!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Turn off the lights for Earth Hour!

Earth Hour is this coming Saturday, March 28th, 8:30-9:30 PM wherever you are!

One Dog, One Hour, One Vote - really can make a difference. And here's your chance to show how!

For the first time in history, people of all ages, nationalities, race and background have the opportunity to use their light switch as their vote – switching off your lights is a vote for Earth, or leaving them on is a vote for global warming. WWF are urging the world to Vote Earth and reach the target of 1 billion votes, which will be presented to world leaders at the Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen 2009.

Earth Hour began in Sydney in 2007, when 2.2 million homes and businesses switched off their lights for one hour. In 2008 the message had grown into a global sustainability movement, with 50 million people switching off their lights. Global landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Rome’s Colosseum, the Sydney Opera House and the Coca Cola billboard in Times Square all stood in darkness.

In 2009, Earth Hour is being taken to the next level, with the goal of 1 billion people switching off their lights as part of a global vote. Unlike any election in history, it is not about what country you’re from, but instead, what planet you’re from. Vote Earth is a global call to action for every individual, every business, and every community, and yes, every dog!. A call to stand up and take control over the future of our planet. Over 74 countries and territories have pledged their support to Vote Earth during Earth Hour 2009, and this number is growing everyday. Join those in support and sign up today!

To get ready for Earth Hour, Mum decided since both me and Gracie are just a wee bit too small to turn off the wall switches, that we would utilize Gracie's larger mitts to help us turn off the lamp lights this Saturday.

So here's Gracie, learning how to turn off the light! This vid is also the first in our series of 'Fun Games'. Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Running contacts - progression #1!

Since I've been off of agility trialing lately and the weather has gotten warm enough to do agility in our backyard, I thought it was time that I finally got in some running dog walk re-training.

Most of you know if you read my blog, that I have running contacts. Why? Because from the moment I started agility training at just a little over one year old, I just couldn't stop on those contacts. My bum would always, and I mean always, make it to the end of the contact before my nose.

Now we know that the most probable reason that happened was because my backend wasn't the strongest backend, and my structure isn't the most ideal (my bum and lower back slopes down a bit and makes it weaker). And this is most probably the reason I pulled my iliopsoas a year or so ago, and why I get some back strain on occasion.

But now that Mum and I know this, we've worked super hard to strengthen my backend through various exercises (begs, going from a beg to a stand and back to beg, exercise ball work and more). So now my backend is much, much stronger, and I could probably do a 2o2o. But since I've been doing running contacts now for about 3.5 years during my agility career, I really don't know anything else.

I had had pretty reliable running contacts the first part of my agility career, up until the time I had my iliopsoas pull. After it healed up, I started blowing my contacts like crazy. I became faster, and much more confident.

Here's a vid of one of my running contacts after recovery from my iliopsoas pull. But it's a rare one, that I made the contact. Mum knew after seeing this vid, that my running contacts were improving, they had a lot more potential, and that we just need to work on 'em. The running DW is at :35, and the frame is at :58.

I am specifically talking here about the dog walk, because I've always had a near 100% reliable running frame. Why we're not sure, I just get it, and haven't missed an aframe in well over two years, and my frame times in recent trials average about 1.594 with the fastest at 1.23. So if I can have a nice running frame, I surely can have a nice running dogwalk, right?

We were lucky enough about a year ago to attend Silvia Trkman's seminar in Ohio. It was just as I was recovering from my muscle pull, so I didn't have the confidence or quickness I have now. But we loved the seminar, and love Silvia, her philosphy, her enthusiasm, her energy, and her eagerness to help, and of course her pup's running contacts. So when it came time to decide how I was going to re-learn the running dog walk, we really wanted to utilize Silvia's method.

But, one of the drawbacks for us in training the dog walk is that we don't own a dog walk. So after I started blowing my DW contacts last year, Mum started utilizing a mouse pad as a 'run through target' of sorts. We would train on it in the yard, and then take it to training class. But the system just wasn't working. I didn't get it, after many, many and I mean many, sessions.

The main reason this 'system' didn't work for me is because if I see a 'target' type of item, I immediately go nuts over it, pay much too much attention to it, and of course expect my treat. It's just how I'm made up. And getting the timing down on throwing the reward just wasn't working.

So we had to rethink our plans for retraining the dog walk. We knew that Silvia doesn't own a dog walk either (I know, amazing, isn't it) so we re-read all of her dog walk training information on her site, and Mum came up with a plan.

We have a teeter, so Mum thought, why can't we take off the base and utilize the board to start retraining. So that's exactly what we've been doing the past week or so. And since Gracie was learning focus during training and trailing in the past, we thought it was a good time to start training her on the running dogwalk as well.

Our first progression began with the board flat on the ground. Running through the contact to a treat target (since we're both very food motivated) placed about 10 feet from the board. That worked great for Gracie, but for me being used to jumping the yellow, that's exactly what I did when the reward was placed that far out from the board. So Mum moved the reward just about 3 feet closer to the board so that I focused on it more, didn't look at her, and drove straight to the reward, running through the contact. It worked great.

After that was successful about 15 times at 100% success rate, Mum started progressively moving the target out further from the end of the plank, making sure that I focused straight ahead. And it worked. So now I'm running and focused ahead, not looking back at her and driving to the targeted reward with fuller speed through the yellow.

Here's a vid of our first progression with the board flat on the ground (well, as nearly flat as we could get it since there is still some pipe attached from being a teeter we can't get off).

You can see that in the first few runs, I'm focused on looking at Mum, and jumped the contact. That's when the target reward was further out. Then you'll see that when she moved it in a little closer to the end of the plank, I started focusing ahead and not checking in.

You'll also see that Gracie got this 'trick' immediately. She loved 'walking the plank' so to speak! Mum noticed with both of us that the closer she was to the plank and us, the slower I was, and the opportunity increased for Gracie to run around the plank. Mum was crowding us. Looks like we both like our independence, which is great, that's what we wnat. So Mum modified her positioning and tried different placements, running at out angles, in angles, staying in one place, running through with us, etc.

Our goals for the contact are: run full out, focus ahead and not check in with Mum, make the contact of course, and not rely on anything from Mom (positioning, speed, etc.), just make it an independent obstacle. Of course when it comes time, we'll have to work on turning after with a turn command, but for now...

Our next progression (progression #2) started a couple of days later with the plank raised a bit after we were both at 100% success rate with the plank flat on the ground with many repetitions over several days. More about progression #2 and more in coming posts.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

AKC National Agility Championships this weekend!

It's time for the AKC National Agility Championships this weekend! They will be held on March 27-29 at the Cabarrus Arena and Events Center in Concord, North Carolina.

To qualify each dog needed to earn 6 Double Q’s & 400 MACH points from the Regular Excellent B Standard & Jumpers With Weaves class during the qualifying period of December 1, 2008 through and including November 30, 2009.

Judges for this years event are: Carla Boudrot, Jack Cadalso, Beth Godwin, Rachel Long, Kim Reeher, and Melodie Sudick.

Eric at Agility Vision is providing complete coverage and live web streams of the Challenger Round and Finals at the AKC Nationals this year and hopefully a live stream from one ring during the rest of the competition. Click here to purchase the Coverage and Live Video Streams for $19.99.

In addition there will be an AKC Nationals DVD of the Challenger Round and Finals for $24.99. And if you miss the live stream and don't want to wait for the DVD you can purchase a high resolution .mp4 Video Download of the Challenger Round and Finals for $14.99. Here's more info.

You can also get some updates of the event from Eric's blog.

Here are some other important links:

Judges and walk thru schedule.

Running Order By Number (By type of dog, no handler or dog names)
Event Results & Coverage

Dates for the 2010 AKC National Agility Championships have been set, (but no location, as of this date). The dates are March 26 – March 28, 2010. Dogs must meet the following qualifications to be eligible to enter this event.

The qualifying period for 2010 is December 1, 2008 through and including November 30, 2009. Dogs will be eligible to enter this event if they earn at least 6 Double Q’s & 400 MACH points from the Regular Excellent B Standard & Jumpers With Weaves class during the qualifying period. New in 2010 dogs from the Preferred class will be eligible to participate in the nationals if they earn at least 6 Double Q’s from the Preferred Excellent B Standard & Jumpers With Weaves class during the qualifying period.

I love my sheepie!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Marley & Me - my review and a giveaway!

On March 31st, Fox Home Entertainment will release the heartwarming tale Marley & Me on DVD & Blu-ray! Starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston, the film will tug on your heartstrinks, that's fur sure!

We were fortunate to have Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, the distributor, send us a review copy of the new DVD which will be in stores on the March 31st date. The DVD not only includes the movie, but also has lots of outtakes, deleted scenes and more.

We've seen the movie and I have to say that I enjoyed it.

It's not your 'typical' dog movie. I think it's a dog movie for families. It's a drama, a comedy, and tells a very moving tale of John Grogan, his wife Jenny, their three children, and of course, the life of Marley, (who we understand was played by 22 different dogs, 11 of them puppies). I'm sure some youngsters will be fine with the movie, but unless they are prepared for every stage of life, I wouldn't want them to see it just yet.

We had read the book, so we were excited to see the movie. If you did read the book you know that the ending is very sad. And like the book, so is the movie.

One thing I couldn't help but feel throughout the entire time I watched the movie is that Marley needed a job. Marley is one of those pups that has energy to burn. I understand that kinda dog, Gracie and I are a little like that ourselves! So all the trouble he gets into, I think could have been channeled. But novice pup owners like John and Jenny probably had no idea how to channel his drive, his zest, and his energy. It happens, but what I like is they never gave up on Marley.

Throughout the movie, Marley shows his complete love for life. It's immeasurable, it's over the top, and gets him into lots of trouble.

The movie stars Academy Award®-Nominee Owen Wilson and Emmy®-Winner Jennifer Aniston. It starts when they start their life together and move from Michigan to Florida. Like any couple's and family's life, the movie shows there are ups and and their downs, great times, and tough times. But the interesting thing is that they deal with what comes their way, and in my opinion, they deal with things the best they can, coming out the other side all the better for it.

And through it all, there's Marley. Making them laugh, making them cry, making them frustrated, making them angry, making them happy, and making them appreciate all that life has to offer.

There are many scenes I liked in the movie. One particular scene that stands out to me is when Marley attends his first training class. I really enjoyed it, laughed pretty hard. I have always been a fan of Kathleen Turner, and she was precious and so out of her normal character as Marley's first obedience class instructor. Couldn't help think that she wasn't the best of trainers, and she just didn't know what to do for the energetic Marley.

But what I liked best about the movie is that Marley has that zest, love and energy for life that I think most people envy. He had a great family, was loved, cared for, and truly blessed. He had a great life - and he knew how to live it!


So, with that! Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, is also providing us with a copy of the DVD to giveaway to our readers!

All you have to do is leave a comment on this blog post, with your name and email address (if you're shy about leaving your email in my comments, feel free to email me @ johann@johannthedog.com with your name). By doing this you will be entered into the drawing (and we'll have a way to get back in touch with you if you win :)

I personally will be selecting the winner, through my usual process, which is Mum puts all the entries on little white pieces of paper on the floor, then sends me to them to pic just one. I'll be picking the winner on March 30th, and then we will let Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment know who our drawing winner is and they will be sending the winner their new Marley & Me DVD on March 31st (or shortly thereafter). Oh, please note, US and Canadian residents only please! (Apologies to my friends across the pond, and further south!)

So get your entries in! K? And then you can cry in the privacy of your own home :)

If you just can't wait to see if you're a winner you can pre-order the DVD from Amazon, and it will be sent on the 31st! Here are the links for the Single Disc Edition, Two-Disc Bad Dog Edition, and the Three Disc Bad Dog Blu-Ray Edition:

I love Spring!

Wow, what a great weather weekend. We just couldn't have asked for better!

I just love Spring, the smells, the greening of the grass, the flowers and blooms starting to come out, the endless possibilities of fun!

Even my kittie bro, Wiggy, got to enjoy some of the Spring weather!

Here's our Lilac shrub, looks like it's finally big enough to have a nice crop of those ever-so-wonderful smelling flowers.

The Daffodils have been creeping up, ever so slowly. The early ones are up about 3-4 inches, the later ones are up just an inch.

Of course all this nice weather, makes both me and Gracie have lots of Spring fever. We want to go outside every time Mum moves an inch! But the nice thing is we are exhausted (finally) after a great, busy day. So exhausted I head for my sleep number bed!

And what would nice weather be without a nice wrestle with your sis. Dang she's got the death grip on me!

Ah, ha! Tables are turned my friend!

In addition to some smelling, wrestling, zoomin and more this weekend, we also got in some agility practice. We've been reworking our running DogWalk, so stay tuned for some vids!

Hope you all had a great weekend!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Gettin' ready to run!

Mum was getting ready to run Gracie at a trial end of last year. And when she arrived at the starters ring she saw a group of about six handlers all together in a circle doing their stretching routines.

They were having a lot of fun stretching together and sharing tips, tricks and exercises. Mum was super impressed that these handlers were starting off their agility careers and their runs on the right foot, so to speak. She just hopes that they warmed up with a little cardio before stretching. Why? Because the latest research says that stretching should be done on warm muscles not cold to prevent injury, and not decrease performance. And we've been reading the same lately for dogs. The most important time to stretch is after a good cardio workout and not before.

Of course I'm not an expert, but I read a lot. So I'm gonna share with you what we've learned and what we do before and after an agility run.

It's so important for both agility handlers and us dogs to get in some cardio, and a little bit of stretching and warm up before each of our runs. This has been our little pre-agility routine, for trailing and training, ever since my iliopsoas pull. After that happened we did a lot of research on stretching, warming up, cooling down, etc.

So before a run, Mum takes me out of my crate and lets me naturally stretch, since I do that every time I come out of my crate, anyway (well most of the time). Then we walk around a little, speed it up some into a little jog, and do that for about 5 minutes or so. When it's closer to the time to run, Mum gives me some treats up near her waist so that I have to stretch out my entire body fully and naturally. She does a couple of quick begs with me, a cookie side stretch on each side, one or two more full body stretches with treats from her waist, one or two quick turns (spins, left and right), and that's it. All of this really revs me up too, gets my blood flowing and all my muscle groups ready for a strenuous run. We do this all about 5 minutes before our run.

While she's doing these things with me, she's also jogging some, taking large steps to stretch out her legs, bending over to help me do my cookie stretches, etc. So while she's warming me up, she's also warming up herself.

Then after a run, we go through an entire body stretch and cool down process. We take a nice little jog to a walk for about 5-10 minutes, then back at the crate Mum has me do the cookie stretches, waist stretches, begs, and a few more exercises. I get a nice drink of water.

Then we walk around slowly for a few more minutes, while I continue to cool down. Then she rubs me down with a nice quick massage in all the major muscle areas, checking for any tightness. And we make sure that I do that every run before I get back in my crate to await my next run.

After that, Mum starts doing some of her stretches, mostly yoga based, since she loves yoga.

As a side note much of the suggested routine for me we garnered through Chris Zink's, The Agility Advantage - a great book that you can read more about on our Canine Athletes lens.

So back to the stretching agility handlers - last year we put together this Squidoo lens resource for Canine Athletes - keeping them healthy, happy and running good. Over the months, Mum's been adding in some additional resources for the agility handlers on our lens, and went searching on YouTube, of course. Here is a nice vid of stretching, great stuff for after some cardio, or after a run, for the humans to increase flexibility and keep those muscles in top shape.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


I had a very fun Sunday. One of my Twitter buds, Coryelle, talked to me, yep, that's right she talked to me, and she talked to Gracie, and Wolfie and Wiggy, too!

Coryelle is an animal communicator and has been helping animals and their humans relate since 2001. Coryelle also practices TTouch™ and is certified in both Bach Flower Therapy and Reiki I and II. In the past, Coryelle has worked as a VetTech in New York City, and has been communicating with animals since she was just a wee pup herself.

So when she asked last week if she could talk with me, I said yes, because you know what? Sometimes, I have something to say, and I'm an open minded kinda guy!

Whether you are a believer or not, animal communication is interesting stuff, I think. I have two other friends here locally that I've talked to over my short years. Either they are some darn good guessers or there really is something to this communication stuff, because many times they have 'hit the nail on the head' so to speak.

I didn't post about this last year, but one of my animal communicator friends was nearby when we were at a trial. In passing I told her, 'could you please tell my Mum to stop talking so much to me on the agility course?' So my friend told Mum. Mum looked at me and looked back at her and said 'so ask him, how in the heck am I supposed to get him to go faster then?' Well, my friend didn't really want to ask me that, but with Mum's insistence she did (Mum knows me pretty well and with our relationship, she thought it was a very fair question).

So my friend asked me, 'so how is she supposed to get you to go faster on the course, if she doesn't talk to you out there?' My response? "I didn't know she wanted me to go faster."

Ok, you're probably laughing right now. Me too, Mum too :) Mum thought it was a pretty fun and an interesting exchange. And you know what? After that, she cut the chatter on the course, and I got faster.

So when the opportunity came up for me to talk with Coryelle on Sunday morning, one of the questions Mum was just dying to ask me is, 'does he know to run the course fast now?' Yep, she asked it. And my response through Coryelle? (This is what Coryelle, told my Mum)

"I sat down, looked at Coryelle (in her mind images), tilted my head to one side, and said 'DUH!!!!' Yep, that's right I said, 'DUH!!!'

Coryelle didn't want to tell my Mum that, but I told her to tell Mum, because it will make her laugh. Poor Coryelle wasn't in on our little joke. So, she finally told Mum. And what did Mum do? She sat there and laughed, and laughed, and laughed until tears were steaming down her face! I have to admit I was laughing pretty hard myself.

So whether you believe or not, animal communication a very interesting experience. Many of the things that Coryelle communicated with me about and told my Mum were helpful, interesting, educational, fun, insightful, meaningful, and just 'spot on.'

Because of our conversation, among other things, Mum now has some tips about my health. She knows I'm still tight sometimes in my iliopsoas, but that it doesn't hurt. This info will help her know how to continue to keep me in tip top shape for agility and how to stretch.

Mum also knows now that Gracie does love agility (sometimes we question that, you know), and she even got some tips on how to keep Gracie's attention on the agility course (boy, will that come in handy if it works, wow!). Mum put some of those agility tips to work on Gracie the past couple of days and wouldn't you know, Gracie is faster in the backyard, much more focused, and she's acting like she's having way more fun doing agility than she has in months, maybe even years. Go Gracie!

One of the things that Mum has always liked about me, and I about her, is that we're open - open to new experiences, and open to new ideas. So with that...

Coryelle and I have a big surprise for you.

If you would like to ask her a question, she will answer your question privately to you via email for free! (One question per person/pup, OK?)

All you have to do is leave your question in my comments along with your email and she will 'tap' into you and respond with an answer to your question via email. And if you don't feel comfy leaving your email in a blog post, just email me your question at johann@johannthedog.com, and I will forward the email to my friend, and Coryelle will respond back to you privately.

Could be a great opportunity, so why not try it out!

Learn more about Coryelle and her practice, visit her website, and her blog, and if you're on Twitter, follow her. We like her!

All good things must come to an end :)

I've loved helping all of you experience the interesting process of animal communication, yet all good things must come to an end at some time, right? Because other good things are just waiting around the corner.

Noon (EST) on Saturday, March 21st, will be the last moment we will be accepting any questions. We've had a great response, really great questions, and hope that you've received some helpful and informative answers. I know that Coryelle will be sharing her thoughts in the comments, but I know for a fact that she has loved 'talking' with all of you.

We hope that one day we may be able to offer this again. Not sure when, not sure how or in what form, but stayed tuned, K?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

It's Wiggy's 10th Birthday!

Today is my kittie bro, Wiggy's, 10th Birthday!!! Wiggy (short for Ludwig) is the feisty, bossy, loving, friendly, nosey one of the family. If something's going on in the house, he's right there in the middle of it. Where Wolfie is super shy with strangers, Wiggy loves greeting them at the door. He helps the furnace repair guy with his tools, and even plays fetch now and then! He's pretty cool. Everyone loves Wiggy!

Can you believe this little guy at 7 weeks, is now 10 years young? Me either.

These two pics are the very day that Mum adopted Wiggy from the Southside Animal Shelter. That's the same no-kill animal shelter that I came from! The shelter folks said that Wiggy was 12 weeks old, but we quickly discovered that he was actually about 7 or 8 weeks old, his beautiful blue eyes, changed to a rich, wonderful golden color just a couple of weeks after he came to live with Mum and Wolfie. (Wolfie is one year older than Wiggy, and the first of the four of us to join the family :)

This is Wiggy now. Turned out he is part Maine Coone. Mum has never had a Maine Coone before and she didn't think that Wiggy was ever gonna stop growing. It took years! He went from the little blue eyed, beauty, to a gangly teenager, and then started filling out all over. Now he's a big, big, kittie (not fat, just big). Heck he's just an inch or so shorter than me and just as long! And he's a beautiful, orange tabby now, with fur to spare!

This is one of Mum's favorite pics of Wiggy. She had just signed up for a photography class (the old dark room kind). That was BD - before dogs. Her assignment was to come to class with a roll full of pics to develop. This is one of the shots she got that week, developed and printed it in class, and it was a bit hit :)

Happy Birthday Wiggy!!!! We sure are glad you're with us, and tolerate us :) Woofs to your 10 year pawversary, and here's to many more years with you my friend!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A few agility annoucnements and interesting stuff!

A bunch of agility stuff!

Mechlenburg Foundation Handling Seminar

Just found this on the CleanRun Yahoo Group this morning and wanted to share, especially for our friends on the other side of the pond and US.

Linda Mecklenburg's Awesome Paws Foundation Handling Seminar that's being held at Clean Run this Monday will be available though live-streaming via the Internet on Monday March 16, 2009, from Noon-5PM ET

The purpose of this seminar is to provide an overview of Linda Mecklenburg's handling system and provide everyone with a basic understanding of how to make it work. There will be a 5+ hour lecture/demonstration that covers the theory and basic skills the dog must have for the system to be successful. All levels of experience are welcome and are encouraged.

The cost is $175.00 and is limited to the first 300 online participants. You can sign up for the event up until one hour before the start (which is 11AM ET). It is recommended you have a high-speed Internet connection. To sign up, click here, payment will be via PayPal (which also takes credit cards).

Cynosport 2009

Well, it's official, the 2009 Cynosport Games will again be held at WestWorld in Scottsdale, Arizona - the dates are November 11-15, 2009. Link with more info.

National/International Competitions

I updated the links on my side bar (scroll down) for FCI, IFSC, European Open, Midwest Championships, Cynosport, etc., so you'll have ready access to all those '09 competition sites that are available to date. Also updated my Dog Agility Squidoo lens to update all the dates for the same competitions. They are all also listed on my Google Calendar if you'd like to grab them and put them on yours.

Midwest Dog Agility Championships 2009

The dates and website have been announced for the 2009 Midwest Dog Agility Championships. The dates will be October 23-25, 2009, with the event held at Crystal Lake, Illinois. More info here.

A-Frame Box Resources

Over at Lucy's Agility Blog is a great post that contains an extensive list of A-Frame Box resources - from Emily and Melanie's YouTube frame training vids, Rachel Sanders DVD review, Ellen's blog posts about her frame sessions with Rachel, and more. Good stuff!

Silvia's US Seminars

I'm late posting about this, but who knows, maybe there are still spots available. Silvia announced her seminars for the US this year. Here's the list with websites for contact:

11/21-25 NC, Melanie: melanie at agilemindsagility.com
11/27-29 TX, Elizabeth: eedogs at earthlink.net
11/30 - 12/3 CA, Ashley: adeacon at slac.stanford.edu
12/5-9 OH, Beth: terriers_rule at roadrunner.com
12/10-13 NH, MJ: agile.kirk at videotron.ca

Silvia is continuing her updates on training and working with Bi, always worth checking out - vids and more. Go here and click on the news section. Bi is growing so quickly!

And here is her latest video - winter tricks with all four of her pups :)

Other random and interesting dog agility blog stuff

Kathy, over at Agility Adventures, had an interesting blog post the other day about toys, rewarding, placement, etc. Loved her toy (with food) ideas.

Well, I guess my Mum isn't the only one that's fallen during a nice run - even Stacy Peardot-Goudy did it. But she had the guts to post a video unlike my Mum, BOL!!! Ouch!!! Hope you're feeling better Stacy! Be sure and watch the nice runs. Love how she leans forward to cue the dog. Also see her post here, seems SoBe has an ilipsoas muscle pull, dang! I must get an email every week that some pup has this nasty I pull and is looking for resources. Take care out there.

Have to say that watching Crufts agility live on the Internet was really fun. Great competition - especially in the large dog category. Here is David Munnings & Dobby's winning run, he just inched by Marcus Topps & Juice for the win. If you'd like to know more about David, AgilityNet has a great interview with him - seems he' been doing agility for 11 years, since he was 15 years old. Here's his website. And of course we love watching the OBay shelties runs, fantastic!

I love this video - it's of Morganne and Sage - Sage is deaf. Super great agility run.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

New book just released on stretching your dog!

An interesting new book - The Healthy Way to Stretch Your Dog - A Physical Therapy Approach was just released in early March 2009.

Research on human athletes is changing what we know about stretching. For example, it is now recognized that aggressive stretching should only take place after muscles are warmed up and shortened from exertion. Authors Sasha and Ashley Foster have applied this latest research to dogs-many of whom compete in vigorous canine sporting events-so that you can learn how to safely and effectively stretch your dog to prevent injuries, maintain joint integrity, and improve you dog's fitness whether he is an elite canine athlete or a lap dog.

I just added the book to my Canine Athletes Squidoo lens - which you may want to check out for all kinds of resources to keep us dog sporting maniacs healthy, happy, and running our best. And, oh, there are some resources for the handler Mum and Dad's too!

NE Rabies Challenge Fund Seminar & Benefit this weekend in NJ!

My new friend Katie Trachte sent me an email yesterday and let me know about an important event this Saturday.

The 2009 Northeast Rabies Challenge Fund Seminar & Benefit will be held March 14, 2009 at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ. The seminar benefits the Rabies Challenge Fund Charitable Trust, an organization devoted to helping your pets live longer, healthier lives.

At the benefit you can meet and hear two of the foremost experts in the field of veterinary vaccine research:

* Dr. W. Jean Dodds, (pictured) world-renowned veterinary research scientist and practicing veterinarian
* Dr. Ronald D. Schultz, leading authority on veterinary vaccines and Chair of the Department of Pathobiological Sciences at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine.

Even if you don't live near New Jersey, you can still support RCF and see/hear Dr. Dodds speak live via the Internet. The live seminar starts at 2PM EDT, and will be broadcast on the HyCaliber Video website. It will be limited to 300 online virtual attendees, and the price of this live stream is $55.00 with the proceeds going to support further vaccine research.

About the Rabies Challenge Fund:
Financed by The Rabies Challenge Fund, one of the most important vaccine research studies in veterinary medicine is underway at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine in Madison. Dr. Ronald Schultz, a leading authority on veterinary vaccines and Chair of the Department of Pathobiological Sciences, has begun concurrent 5 and 7 year challenge studies to determine the long-term duration of immunity of the canine rabies vaccine, with the goal of extending the state-mandated interval for boosters. These will be the first long-term challenge studies on the canine rabies vaccine to be published in the United States.

Scientific data indicates that vaccinating dogs against rabies every three years, as most states require, is unnecessary. Studies have shown the duration of protective immunity as measured by serum antibody titers against rabies virus to persist for seven years post-vaccination. By validating the 'true' life of rabies virus immunity and moving to five and hopefully seven years, we will decrease the risk of adverse reactions in our animals and minimize their repeated exposure to foreign substances.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Oh so cool! More intelligent dog games!

I was over at Karen Pryor's site the other day, and got so excited when I discovered she is selling some of the popular and amazing Nina Ottosson Intelligent dog toys, different than the ones I talked about just before the Holidays that Clean Run has available. You can see them all on her site here, then click on the Puzzle Toys & Boredom Busters on the right navigation bar!

Here they are:
Dog Box - The Dog Box is an amusing game for you to enjoy with your dog. This game develops your dog’s intelligence and puzzle-solving skills by teaching him to put toy blocks into a box with holes on top. The game has three degrees of difficulty. When your dog succeeds in getting the block into the hole, treats fall out. Once your dog understands how the Dog Box works, the upper board can be replaced with one of the other two boards.
Dog Puzzler - The DogPuzzler is an exciting hide-and-seek style game for your dog. The dog hunts for snacks by moving blocks in four different directions. Underneath each block is a hollow for hiding snacks. The blocks can only be lifted up (and checked for snacks!) at the end of each track. Vary the game by using more than one block in the same track. To make the game harder, use big Dog Smart blocks or a rolled-up piece of cloth or paper to lock the rounded part of the track. Your dog will have to remove this lock in order to get to the DogPuzzler block.
Dog Twister - Dog Twister is a challenging, fun game for you and your dog. Hide dog snacks underneath the various discs. Your dog learns to look for dog snacks by moving one disc after the other in different directions. You can make the game more difficult by locking the discs in position with wooden pegs. Your dog will learn to loosen the discs by lifting the pegs one by one. Start by locking a few of the discs in position. When your dog has learned what to do, you can lock all the discs in position.
Dog Turbo - Put small dog snacks or dry food in the passages. Let the dog move the blocks with its paw or nose against the side, thereby moving the snacks so that the snacks can fall out through different holes. The blocks cannot be lifted. Ingenious, tricky and fun.
Dog Casino - To play, the dog looks for treats by pulling out flaps in different directions. In each flap there is a depression where a treat can be hidden. You can increase the degree of difficulty by locking the flaps using the plugs on the top.

Can I have at least one, Mum? Paaalllleeeeeaaaasssseeee!

A couple of vids!


The weather has been kinda nice around here! So what have we been doing? Besides a little backyard agility practice, we've been wrestling! Mum took so many pictures of us she's thinking she needs a KVM switch so she can edit these photos faster! BOL!

It's time for Wrestlemania!!!!

Here we are on a collision course!

Ha! I got her!

Gracie is just about down for the count!

Oh no, she's trying the headlock move!

Ha! I got her screaming, I give, I give!!!!

Oh no, I think she's got me!

Didn't work! I'm loose!

After that, we of course have to settle in to a nice drink!

Pretty fun couple of days!

The Iditarod.

The Iditarod is going on this week - the longest, harshest, most grueling dog sport in the World.

Sadly there are reports from LAUnleashed this morning about one of the sled dogs dying yesterday during the race. The reason for the death is not yet know. The Baltimore Sun reports that three dogs died during last years race. PETA, of course, is up in arms. And on the other side of the fence there are those close to the sport, the dogs, and the mushers who contend that these dogs live for this sport. Oh, the controversy. I suppose life isn't without controversy.

I, for one, understand what living for something is. I live for agility (and my, Mum, of course). Anytime Mum puts on her agility shoes, or even goes near them for that matter, I get wild, manic, wacky and can't wait to get out in the backyard to run. Mum has to put her agility shoes in the closet because if she walks by them I get wild. Now that they are in the closet, if she walks by it I get crazy.

At trials, I pull her feverishly to the start line (when I'm healthy, that is - 'cause you all know that sometimes I'm hurt; much too often, I may add), just itching to get out there and run, as a team, with my Mum.

I've done agility since I was 12 months old. I kinda know what it means to be a working dog (even though I am in no way a full time working dog :). I know what it means to want to do something so bad, you just can't hold it in. Heck, Mum has to tackle the sheep to get me to stop herding them, before I would potentially collapse.

I think I have to agree that most all of these sled dogs are absolutely hungry to run these sleds. Is the race too long? Maybe, probably. Are some of the mushers not nice to their dogs? Probably, maybe (just like in other sports, just like in life). Are many of the mushers really good to their pups, take the best care, and are completely concerned about their dogs? Most probably, and most maybe, (just like in any sport, just like in life). Is the sport dangerous? Yes, just as many dog (and human) sports, are dangerous.

So what do I think of the Iditarod? I think it's a tough race, hard on the dogs and on the humans. But I think it's rewarding for many of the dogs who were bred, raised and born to do this. And I also think that many of these dogs love it, and would and do run their heart out till the very end because they want to.

I would bet that many of these mushers and dogs are real teams, doing their best and working as a team at a sport they both absolutely love. They work hard to keep their pups healthy all year long, so they are ready for this grueling competition. They watch them closely for any injury or illness, pull them from the race or practice when necessary. I can really relate to that, that's what Mum does for me. (Sometimes she even thinks she needs to take medical coding training courses, just to keep up with all my health insurance submissions.)

Agility is a tough sport on dogs, so is disc dog, so are other dog sports. But we do it because we love it. There are many, many dangers in life; and there are so many things in life that are hard, tough, difficult, stressful; but yet provide us the most fun, the most reward and, perhaps even, the very thing we live for.

Photo: Ryan Redington puts booties on his sled dog Columbia as he gets ready to leave the Takotna, Alaska, checkpoint in the Iditarod race.

Credit: Al Grillo / Associated Press

Monday, March 09, 2009

Around the dog-o-sphere!

There's been a lot of cool, interesting, fun, entertaining and educational stuff we've found recently around the dog-o-sphere! Here goes:

The new season - season 3 - of DogTown will start March 20th on the National Geographic Channel. Click here for a sneak peak!

Hector, a former Michael Vick pit bull, is now a certified therapy dog! Go Hector! Read more.

I admit, I enjoyed watching the agility live from Crufts this weekend. With all the controversy surrounding the event, I was wondering if some of the new breed standard changes that they implemented were holding up. Well, seems some don't think so. Read more.

Lita Roza, the lady that sang the song I never really liked, "How Much is that Doggie in the Window," never liked that song either. But she did have a place in her heart for animals. When she died in August she left £190,000 to animal charities. Read more.

We read on Martha Stewart's blog this morning that she lost her Chow pup, Ghenghis Khan, in that horrible Pennsylvania kennel explosion. What a horrible tragedy. Our hearts go out to Martha, and all the pups and hoomans effected.

We're big Petfinder peruser (I think that's a word :), so it was super cool when we saw this yesterday. Seems Victoria Stilwell is gonna help a shelter pup with training advice to help them get adopted! You can read their story and vote for your favorite pup to get Victoria's help.

The Animal Media Foundation (AMF), an organization that facilitates collaborations between the entertainment industry and animal welfare organizations has a new CD coming out that will be benefiting the Best Friends Animal Society. It's called "Giving Animals A Voice Through Music," and featured music by John Oates, Cyndi Lauper, Emmylou Harris and many others. You can pre-order the CD here! And it will begin shipping on March 11th.

Well, it's coming up on Spring and already we have the Roly Poly's invading our little abode. So we wrote a blog post on Raise A Green Dog about how we combat the little buggies, using an all natural, safe, inexpensive product, called Diatomaceous Earth. Check it out.

I thought this was a cool story. It's about rescued deaf boxer pup, Tag Heuer. He goes to work, works out, and is a happier, healthier pup fur it! Read more.

It's Iditarod time - the toughest dog sport on the planet with 10-17 days of grueling trekking through the Alaskan wilderness. It got underway officially yesterday. Visit their site to see the standings, amazing photos, videos and more.

I have some buds who have some bionic parts - like Charlie with the pacemaker that saved his life! So when I saw this it really caught my eye. Cassidy, a tripawd, got a prosthetic leg, wow! Read more.

I you haven't been living in a closet this past week, you probably know all about Oprah 'unveiling' her new rescue pup on her show last Friday. Meet Sadie, the new Cocker Spaniel addition to the Winfrey pack!

And last but not least fur now, 'cause I may need Orlando vacations after this, BOL!!

The ASPCA is partnering with iPhone game developer, GiantCrayon Games, throughout March and April to raise money for animals. For every copy of ShiveringKittens sold, GiantCrayon will donate $1 to the ASPCA. If you're into the iPhone and into games, check it out!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Today is Gracie's Gotcha Day!!!!

Happy Gotcha Day, Gracie! We are so glad we found you!!!!

If you don't know, my sis, Gracie's story, she was taken from a hoarder who had 70 dogs in a rural county in Southern Indiana. The Sheriff took the dogs away from the hoarder and a vet in Seymour ended up with the 20 puppies (sadly, the 50 adult dogs were all euthanized for health issues and aggression, they said). The vet kept the 20 puppies in a cage for about six weeks, until we found Gracie on Petfinder. You can read more about Gracie's story here, she has her own Squidoo lens :)

Mum and I went down to Seymour to see her, and she took to me really well! (I can be a feisty one, sometimes). That day was a very special day, because it was the day we found Gracie, and Gracie found her furever home!

Here's a pic of Gracie on the first day she came to live with us on March 7th, 2006, she was about 6 months old!

That day we ran, and ran, and ran around the backyard. It was a nice, sunny, somewhat warm day for March, just like today!

This is the first pic ever taken of me and Gracie together the day after we adopted her. Mum had to teach her to sit and stay first :). She picked it up right away!

We soon found out that Gracie loves the water from the hose. That's when her Border Collie side comes out and she gets super manic and crazy over the water!

Gracie has taken some time to get used to not being stressed at agility trials, but she's been doing super good at them lately, and she loves training and trialing now. Go Gracie!

Gracie's favorite trick in the entire universe is 'wave.' She could do it over, and over, and over...

And this is Mum's most favorite pic of our Gracie Girl. It really shows just how sweet, happy, kind, caring, gentle, loving, and fun she is!

We love you Gracie!!!!!
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