Monday, August 30, 2010

Manners Minder

 the incredible, edible (sort of) training treat dispenser.

Who knew this tool would be so powerful. We have only had ours for a few days. Reese knew what it was and how it worked because our agility trainer has been kind enough to let us use hers during some of our lessons.

I still showed it to Reese and dispensed a few treats for free so she could make sure it was in fact the same thing, sans the A-frame.

For those of you not familiar with the Manners Minder, kibble or treats are put into the machine and dispensed using a remote control. There is a beep first as a marker to let the dog know they provided the desired response and that there is a treat on the way - just like when a clicker is used. The difference here is that the trainer doesn't have to be right there next to the dog.

I bought the Manners Minder to work on a number of things with Reese.

1. Her seperation anxiety when I leave her in the crate in the car, or leave the house at a non-work time. When I leave for work she is used to the routine and it is not normally a problem.

2. Reese doesn't care for skateboards. Especially the noise they make when they are getting popped up and flipped and spun around like the teenager a few houses away likes to do, right in front of our house - of course.

3. People walking by the house with or without a dog. Reese could care less if we are outside and someone walks by, she just looks at them and goes about her business. But...if she is inside then she doesn't like it. 

4. See #3 above, this includes pesky critters. Squirrel and rabbit hotdish anyone!!

So the first day we had it, what should appear but the magical flying skateboard with a teenage boy onboard....

Reese heard the noise of the skateboard and started to bark and jump at the window. 

Fade in....."the Manners Minder".

Put the Manners Minder on the floor in the living room away from the window. When Reese stopped barking for a few seconds, I pushed the button "beep" and a treat appeared. Hmmm, Reese looked at the machine, stayed quiet and I pushed the button again. Reese bounced over to the Manners Minder and ate the treats. She went back to the window and looked out but only barked a few more times, when she stopped barking I dispensed another treat etc. After about three times barking she watched Joe Skateboarder out the window calmly but did not bark. Beep=treat, beep=treat, beep=treat. Good girl!

The next day a white rabbit appeared out of its hole. Okay, so it hopped into the yard - just seeing if you are really paying attention here. I did the same thing as above but Reese only barked at the rabbit once, after she received the first treat from the Manners Minder she watched the rabbit calmly and did not bark.

We have done this same thing a lot in the past but with me using a clicker and dispensing the treats personnally but apparently I am not as "good as a machine". For one thing Reese never really ever heard the clicker. But apparently, when it is this cool thing giving the treats learning happens much faster. Because tonight this is what happened after only the two experiences discussed above.

A squirrel was in the yard across the street, yes still Reese's yard according to her calculations. She saw the squirrel, barked and ran to the ......

Manners Minder sitting on the shelf. She jumped up to it and looked for a treat:)). I put it on the floor and gave her a treat.

Good Girl!  I went over to the window and talked about the squirrel and tried to get her to come and look at it again. So that she could choose to react and bark or not.

This is all I got....
"Naaa, I'll just wait here, there's gotta be another treat coming soon.....
squirrels are stupid anyway."

All I can say is I wish we would have gotten this tool a long time ago! 

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Green Smoothies!

Green Smoothies are the best thing - my new favorite thing! They pack a punch of vitamins and minerals and other good stuff and they are filling, refreshing and give you lots of energy. Most people do not get enough greens in their diet, this is a great way to do that. Best of all they are quick and easy to make!

The recipe I use is simple. All you need is:
measuring cup
Almond Breeze milk
greens (romaine, spinich, kale, collard greens)
1 banana
berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries any kind you want)
vanilla (optional)

Put 1/2 a cup of the Almond Breeze and 1/2 cup of water in the blender. Add about three of four leafs of the romaine or equivalent of other greens and blend. I have found that I can't add all the greens at once with my blender so I do a few at a time and add more. That way I can see how much greens I have blended too.  I use enough to give me about 2 cups of the greens, milk and water blended in the blender. You can certainly use more or less.

I use a combination of greens. Usually romaine with a little kale and collard greens. Or I might use spinach instead of the romaine, it just depends on what I feel like having.

Once the greens are blended you can add the banana. Through trial and error I find that I like one banana in mine. Any more than that and the banana flavor stays too strong. I like the taste of the berries. Add one banana and blend with the green mixture.

Then add the berries. I usually use about 1 1/2 cups in mine. Play around and see what you like. Add a teaspoon of vanilla (optional). Blend, pour, drink.

Yes, it still looks green with a tint of whatever else you put in, I used strawberries in the above picture. But.....all you taste are the berries you put in!!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Fun Day at the Fun Run!

Reese and I went to an Agility Fun Run today. We had a great time. These are such great experiences for green dogs in agility. It gives the dog a chance to adjust to and test how they would react in more of a trial situation and lets the handler see where they need to work on their handling skills.

With Reese, I am always happy if she stays focused on me and doesn't get the zoomies, or get keyed up on the other dogs walking and running around. She did great. I had to refocus her a few times, but in her defense there were sheep at this Fun Run and she knew it and while she is getting more into the game of agility...working sheep will always be her first love.

She did a great job ignoring other dogs while they were running or walking around the site, not barking in the car while waiting her turn. She got excited when one dog ran who is very fast and barks when running around the ring, but I got her refocused after that and she was fine. So different than she was a year ago, heck even six months ago. She was even more interested in visiting with the people than she was in the dogs running their courses today.  Good Girlie!!!!

While we are on the course she didn't run off to see the other dogs even once. She just wanted to see the sheep, which in reality the chances of an agility trial being held right next to someone working sheep is not all that likely. Could it happen yes, but.....we just won't attend those until she has a full comprehension of what we are working at the moment - agility or sheep.

After the fun run I helped some friends who are always so much fun build a round pen. We had lots of laughs, got lots of sun (didn't find that out until I got home - and yes, I wore sunscreen), and learned lots of interesting farm animal facts. Such as, "Did you know that pigs.....??  Well, we won't go there now. Also, learned the tricks of the trade of how to build a round pen. Hard work but fun to see the end result.

Here is a video of our runs from today. These were shot with my camera that shoots digital stills and also has HD video. I have only shot one other video on it so I wasn't sure how these would turn out. My friend Dianna taped these for me. She did a great job as I couldn't give her much of any instruction as I hadn't ever used the zoom with the video. Thanks Dianna.  However, I must mention that I had Donna tape us on my old camera for a back up. Just have to say that Donna did a great job taping today as well:))  Thanks Donna.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Weekend in Review

So this post was supposed to come out Sunday night....but we had a little problem in the blogosphere! So here it is now.

It was a pretty low key weekend. We had a birthday party for my Mom on Friday and went to dinner at a Japanese Steakhouse in town and ate at the Hibachi grill. The first order of the day was.....Sushi of course!
Never had it, still never had it....pretty doubtful that I'll have it in this lifetime!

Making our Fried Rice - yum, yum!

Trying out my HD video on my camera!

Celebrating Japanese style!

Green Tea Ice Cream!

Then back home for some fun and games.

Reese says, "This birthday stuff is soooo boring! Where are all the bones."
It was a fun night. Everyone had a good time, even Reese.

On Saturday I helped my friends Loretta and Andy with their sheep. We tagged the ewes and boys, (not sure what they are called at this age, will have to learn that) that will be going to market and dewormed all the sheep and some got their hooves all trimmed up. 

After we were done I got a special treat and got to see Zip, the dog that got my friend into sheep in the first place, work. I have never seen her work before, but she has won many trials and done very well. So it was fun, looking forward to seeing more of her work in the future.

Then Reese and I had our agility lesson. I wasn't sure how it would go as Reese was keeping herself busy in her crate in the car while we worked on the sheep.  She was a little keyed up at first but not bad, just glad to be out of the crate I think. It was very humid and hot and we were working on her A-frame.  I believe we our up to the full height for USDAA. We did a bit of course work and a few dogwalks and we were done. 

The rest of the weekend was pretty chillin'. Relaxed, napped, read, took some photos of the river, didn't turn out like I wanted so don't look for them here.  So I guess you could say it was a perfect weekend.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Odds and Ends...

It has been awhile since I've posted. Not much going on....heat, humidity, rain, thunder...repeat!

Finally, we have a cool breeze today and the humidity is gone.  I have the windows open for the first time in months. Reese and I had our morning coffee outside today while we played a little ball. Of course Miss Grandma Grumpy Gotta Have My Way, still wanted to play in the pool.
 By the way, no she never got water in her pool.

Sorry babe, I said "No" and No means NO!

Even with the cool weather this girlie is addicted to her pool and the hose. Water, water gotta have it. But throw her in a lake and she can't get out fast enough. Silly willy.
All this rain has made me parched!  Need water!
There was an agility trial in town this weekend. Many of my friends were competing so I went to watch and take pictures. I am having a lot of fun with my camera. Learning more about post processing and different photo editors etc. I shot yesterdays agility photos in both jpeg and raw.

I got some new shampoo to use on Sophie Sophia. She is another one who only likes to play in water, but get her anywhere near full body wet and you are in for it!  She's got all her claws and she knows how to use them.  So we went with this....
Waterless Foam Shampoo
It is suppposed to work well, so we thought we would give it a try. First, some pictures of Sophie pre-bath. 
They're Here!

Here she is just after, not to happy with the spiked look. But now that she is mostly dry and she is combed out she is rather pleased with herself. 
Bella doesn't mind a bath, actually she kind of likes it. She won't play with water but will do a full body bathe.....go figure! But since she was sitting there watching Sophie's drama unfold, I decided to try it on her too. She liked it. But next time she'll get water with that bath.

Get ready Reese your turn is coming....

I have started a new workout program, well two actually. I am doing the 100 push-up program and the 200 sit-up program. You do three workouts a week for 6-8 weeks. First, you do a test run to see where you need to start and then you will know which workout to do each week. We'll see how much improvement I can muster after 6 weeks. Also, doing some sprints with our morning runs to try to improve my stamina on the agility field:))

Speaking of which, we will be doing another Fun Run at the end of the month. I am very excited as Reese did so well at the last one. Plus our A-frame is coming right along so we hope to have that in our course as well, and I am getting tested each week on how I would handle a course, I think I am getting better, I still need a little help but it is coming. I think we always run Master level or above courses at our classes. 

Hopefully we will be getting our trial entry in soon for our first show. Cross your fingers that we can get one in before the snow flies. 

And yes, we are scheduled for yet another Kathy Knox clinic, at least if we get in, in November. Will be traveling with our friends again so Reese will be able to swoon over her new friend Spot!!!
Finally, my Sunflowers have bloomed!

This one's for you Sue!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Clinic I and Clinic II

Reese and I are back home from another herding clinic, our second one in two weekends. The first was a Kathy Knox clinic, and this past weekend it was a double clinic with both Jack and Kathy. Both weekends were incredible I guess for their own reasons and some of the same.  

The first weekend which I touched on in the last post was incredible as it had large pastures to work in, really large, not quite sure about the size but long outruns were in order for the field dogs. Seeing the dogs run in the larger field was just awe inspiring, you can read about sheepdogs and watch DVD's and see it on T.V.  but nothing beats seeing a good trained stockdog work.

Over the hill the dog goes, out of sight of the handler into a larger pen to gather the sheep and bring them out a small gate, with whistle commands from the handler all the while she can't see the dog. Over the hill comes the rush of fleece followed by a black and white dog keeping them in line all the way down to the handler - incredible! There are no words to describe it really it is just amazing, and one of those things you have to see. 

The connection between the handler and the dog and the trust between the two, and seeing a dog do what it was bred to do is the best thing ever. Talk about happy content dogs.

Reese worked in the round pen at the first clinic. We are going back to correct some bad habits she has developed, starting with respecting the sheep and recognizing that there is a handler in the ring that is there to help her and that it is someone she can trust. The first weekend, she had some big breakthroughs in that by the end she was giving to the handler and was starting to call off her sheep. A simple thing that should have been the first step in her training but wasn't. So we are going back to square one and basically starting over but also trying to keep a few things that are there, and get rid of some history that we wish wasn't there. Reese made some big changes in just one weekend. I couldn't have been more happy with how she did.

At the second clinic I learned a ton as well.  Probably more than the first about the training aspect just because there were more beginner dogs, working in a smaller field, working flanks, short outruns and some driving. It was amazing the smallest change in something the handler did made significant changes in some of the dogs.

There were dogs that were in the round pen and of course Reese was one of them. It was interesting in that most of the dogs could have gone back to the round pen to work on something, but most people want to get out of the round pen as soon as possible and not look back. In reality the round pen is a tool that could be used to help many of the things you are trying to train.

Reese had huge changes this weekend. She started to be calm watching other dogs work. She continued to not drag me to the pen and instead walked up the gate at the round pen and waited to go in. She gave to the handler, she called off each time she was asked and I wanted to cry. The last three or four times she worked she looked up at the handler as she came off with a happy look on her face clearly enjoying this new found understanding that if she comes off the sheep, then she gets her sheep back. In fact today's runs she was actively seeking Kathy out to take her in to work the sheep. 

The run this morning she had a bit of chase in her with the sheep, but our goal for the weekend was to get her calling off the sheep and respecting the sheep and the handler and we weren't so concerned with the work in the middle at this point.  Reeese called off the sheep very well which is what we wanted. During her afternoon run she worked really well, gave to the handler on both her flanks and was starting to read the sheep. And she came off the sheep each time she was asked. Huge, huge changes! So proud of my girl.

These clinicians were both great and I learned an incredible amount not just about working stockdogs, but dogs in general. These people really get it, and they both have a way with the dogs that is amazing to watch.  So glad I had the opportunity to attend both weekends.