Sunday, August 25, 2013

Actual agility. Seriously.

After several months of missing out on weekly agility club practices, I finally drove down and joined in the fun today. And after months of not posting about training and agility...I mean geeze, 'agility' is in the blog address afterall...I'm actually writing a post about training Danee today. Will wonders never cease?

Danee hasn't been to the arena since May. And while we've been training on obstacles at home, I wasn't sure where her state of mind would be with the busy environment and new dogs. So my goals were simple, and none of them really had anything to do with agility.

1) Practice taking her in and out of the x-pen she shared with Holly in a busy place. My criteria for the x-pen is that both dogs must sit when I open the door. Either of them pops up, I close it again. Then I leash the dog I want and release her by name, and the other dog must remain in a sit until the door is closed again. Danee rocked this. Holly...not so much. Holly was pretty certain I should only be working with her and not Danee. Jealous much?

2) Be able to go into 'working mode' outside of the ring, inside the ring, and focus on whatever the task is at hand. Danee rocked this. She was totally comfortable and able to dive right into working mode in the busy environment. And it was extra busy today too...there were puppies everywhere! She happily did tricks outside the ring, next to the ring while other dogs were running, and inside the ring right before her turn. No problem with focus at all. Not only that, but she did many short obstacle sequences and nailed each one. No hesitation, no hint of stress or confusion at all.

3) Chill out when she's not working. She was able to chill in the pen somewhat, but was not relaxed enough to lie down. She watched everything and stayed very alert. Then again, Holly can't chill either...but Holly takes it the next level and barks incessantly when she's overaroused. So, I'm calling Danee's chill attitude, compared to Holly's, a win.

4) If she wants, to greet new people and new dogs. She did. She took cookies with gusto from several people and shied away from no one. She also liked several of the new dogs, including another dog not unlike herself...a cute little terrier mix.

I was thrilled with Danee today. It was like she'd been doing this for years and had no problem with anything that got thrown her way today. Actual agility included. She sequenced 5 obstacles in a row and drove down to each obstacle with gusto. She even experienced the chute for the first time. Since I do only NADAC, I don't bother training the chute or table. But she hopped onto the table today and dove into the chute (held partway open) with glee.

And so not to be left out of her own blog, Holly got to play too. I only worked on distance and layering with short sequences. She rocked it too. Granted we did some pretty simple stuff today, but it's nice to ease back into things and build on layers of confidence instead of presenting her with nothing but challenge after challenge. If I did that all the time, the poor girls brain would pop.

Both girls took long naps when we got home. Next week, we play with tunnels!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Vacations and Catching Up

I've been more or less on vacation the last 2-3 weeks while my parents were here visiting. I say more or less because I worked while they were here (more on that later) and they left for a few days to go visit my sister in another town....and with them went my car. So I worked while they were gone those few days too.

But more or less they were here and we did fun vacationy stuff.

There was swimming for the dogs...yup, after 3 years of convincing her that monsters from the deep were not going to come and grab her, Holly finally swims.

It was hot and my parents are water people, so we visited lots of lakes and rivers...


There was also huckleberry picking...I LOVE it when my family visits when the hucks are ripe. It means that we all go picking and then I get to keep all that was picked. I have over 2 gallons in the freezer now, and I didn't have to do all the picking myself!

We also visited some of their favorite places, like this old growth western cedar forest...they are so old and so large that they rival California's redwoods.

And lastly, because no vacation at my house is complete without a bear (seriously, ask my mom!), here is a picture of my parents with a grizzly bear that, for research purposes, I handled while they were here. They were lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to come down and see the bear.

Please note that when this picture was taken this bear was humanely and safely sedated. The bear was sedated in order to place a tracking collar on it and to collect physiological data necessary for research. This picture was taken after all monitoring devices and oxygen were removed, and just prior to placing the bear back inside a culvert trap to safely wake up. The green bandage on his forearm is covering an IV line that is giving the bear fluids while he's sedated.

You can find out more about this bear and this grizzly bear population program at the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Facebook page.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Reblog: Before You Breed Your Pet Dog...

This post was originally written by mymegaedog, a dog blogger who also volunteers at her local shelter. It's such a great great idea that I've reblogged it here. Click on the link at the bottom to read the entire post, or you can click here to go to the original blogsite

My last post Please Stop Breeding Your Pet Dog seems to have struck a chord with some. I first want to say that I am grateful that none of the responses I’ve gotten (even the ones who disagreed with me) were nasty. I’m clapping for all of you who have been able to stay level headed about this! Click!
One follower (check her blog and her photography out here) made a comment that really stuck with me though. I’ll quote it off my last post just so I don’t mess it up.

"I think that people who want to breed their pet dogs should first foster/volunteer for a shelter/rescue for a while."

It’s a simple thing, but very profound and honestly something that hadn’t occurred to me before. Her comment was the difference between being simply active about the situation (which, let’s face it, is what I was doing) and being proactive about the situation. I was being a bad positive reinforcement trainer and telling people what they shouldn’t do instead of what they should. That doesn’t negate what I said though and all of those things should be considered, I’ll add that as a caveat.

Volunteering in a local rescue or shelter opens eyes (I know it did mine). I think you’d find that some (if not all) of the reasons that you want to breed your pet dog fall by the wayside in the face of the realty of the homeless dog situation in the United States. It really gives you a little more perspective on some of the common myths.

Click HERE to continue reading this blog post at the original site