After the conference I took vacation time. I had never been south of the Salt Lake City area and was itching to see places like Arches National Park. To make the vacation perfect, my best friend flew down from Alaska and met me in Salt Lake City. From there, we drove down and stayed a week in both Canyonlands and Arches National Parks. Honestly, it was like visiting Mars...I have never experienced a landscape so vastly different from anything I'd ever seen before.
We camped in some awesome spots...I mean, who doesn't want to camp with a view like this?
|Arches National Park campground|
We saw some famous petroglyphs, like Newspaper Rock...
And some along the Colorado River...
|A cave bear|
In all, it was a spectacular trip.
While I was gone, I hired (for the first and last time) a dog sitter. That was as close to a disaster as I care to come. The dog sitter had over-committed her time, and wasn't truthful about the amount of time she'd would actually spend with my dogs...and spending time with them was the whole reason I hired her. So for 2 weeks, the dogs got no exercise and practically no attention...the result was them doing things they had NEVER done before, like pull things out of the basement to chew on in the yard (Holly), and counter-surf (Danee). The dogs survived, but I was pissed. They should not have had to spend those 2 weeks bored out of their minds...keeping them entertained was the whole reason I hired a dog sitter, instead of sending them to a boarding kennel. Obviously I won't be hiring her ever again.
Coming home and giving them real exercise (both physically and mentally) was all that was needed to stop the horrible behaviors they learned while I was gone. It just goes to show that people that complain that their dogs constantly do bad things clearly aren't giving those dogs the physical or mental exercise they need. So the dogs spent the last 2 weeks catching up on all the exercise they didn't get while I was gone. Danee's metal state did regress some while I was gone...walking in circles when she's confused or stressed made a reappearance...but fortunately those are already starting to wane.
The last 2 weeks I've also been preparing Danee for her first agility trial. I say "prepare", but what I really mean is just working at reinforcing that playing agility is rewarding. She was at this trial location back in May so she was pretty chill at arriving, seeing all the dogs walking around inside and out, and crating in the x-pen with Holly for a few hours.
I only signed both dogs up for 3 runs on just one day. That way we could get there late, stay a few hours, then head home. This is my closest trial location, at only 2 hrs away, so driving there and back for the day was no big deal.
In all, the plan worked really well. Danee didn't get too tired to focus, nor did she have any stressed out moments. While she was mildly nervous of strangers that wanted to say hello to her, she took treats from everyone and was able to go into working mode comfortably amongst people and dogs she had never seen before.
Our first run was Novice Chances, which is a perfect course for a newbie dog. They are usually pretty short and easy runs...I just ignored the distance line. I wanted her ask her to focus long enough to take a few obstacles correctly, then get out of the ring before she noticed the judge, bar setters or other people in the ring with her. It went as planned, I asked for about 6 obstacles in sequence and she wagged her tail the whole time. Her second run was Touch and Go and I cut the course in 1/2, asking for only the second half that had mostly tunnels and the A-frame. But this time she noticed the people in the ring. She lost her focus enough to run around 2 of the tunnels, but she still stayed with me. She was able to stop, refocus and happily take the last remaining 4 obstacles in a row. A successful run in my book.
Her last run, Novice Jumpers, I have on video. This time I asked for the whole course from her. She was a little hesitant, especially after noticing people sit in the ring, but in all stayed happy and only missed one obstacle.
I'm pretty proud of Little Dog. She's come a long way since she arrived in March :)
Holly ran in 3 classes too...the same ones as Danee (Chances, TNG and Jumpers) but in Elite. She rocked it. Despite doing very little backyard agility in the last 6 months, neither of is were as rusty as I thought we would be. It felt so good to run with her again!
Holly also finally, finally, finally, finally, finally received her Novice Versatility Award and her Open Versatility Award. She earned them well over a year ago, but we just got them hand delivered to us yesterday. Yay!